Lauren Cho’s remains found in California desert months after she disappeared from her Airbnb
In late June, Lauren Cho moved out of the Yucca Valley, Calif., Rental property where she lived, but she did not pick up any phones, food or water, her friends and others have told police. staying in the house.
It was the last time anyone saw Cho.
The 30-year-old, who had recently moved to California from New Jersey, was quickly reported missing. Local authorities searched the area where Cho was reportedly last seen wearing a yellow T-shirt and denim shorts.
But for months, a team of detectives, search dogs, and at least one plane looking for “El,” as her friends and relatives called Cho, found no trace of her.
Then this month, authorities said they found human remains in the open desert of the Yucca Valley. The San Bernardino Coroner’s Division announced on Thursday that the remains were Cho’s, ending the months-long search for the Korean-American musician, conductor, artist and former music teacher.
“The cause and mode of death are pending toxicological results,” the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a press release. “No further information will be released on this matter until toxicological results are available and new information is discovered as a result.”
The Cho family did not immediately respond to a message from the Washington Post Thursday evening.
In a statement posted to the Facebook page her family set up after her disappearance, Cho’s sister paid tribute to “El” and thanked everyone who accompanied them during the months of the search.
“I was lucky to have had thirty years of better company,” wrote her sister, who identified herself only as HJ. “… My family thanks everyone who waited with us, stood with us, cried with us and hoped with us for the past few months.
She added, “The depths of our collective grief seem endless, as grief demands space for the emptiness that accompanies it.”
The identification of Cho’s remains comes weeks after authorities discovered Gabby Petito’s body in a national forest in Wyoming. The case of the 22-year-old woman not returning from a trip across the country with her fiance – who refused to provide information about her fate to police before her own body was found in Florida weeks later – attracted national attention.
Petito’s death, which was later labeled a homicide, grabbed the headlines for weeks, and the search for her led authorities to locate the remains of another missing person in Wyoming. But the case has also left families of color searching for their missing loved ones, wondering why their cases haven’t received the same level of media attention.
Cho had been missing since June 28, when she allegedly moved away from the Airbnb rental where she was staying, police said.
According to her friends, who set up a website to draw attention to the case, Cho was last seen by her friend and ex-boyfriend, who was also staying at the Airbnb where she worked as a private chef, about 20 miles north of Palm Springs.
While the search for Cho continued for over three months, police found no trace of her.
“We want answers,” his friends wrote. “She is the most loving, caring and loyal aunt, sister and friend, and the most hilarious person you will ever meet. And we cannot abandon it.
On October 9, detectives found human remains in the open desert of the Yucca Valley, authorities said, adding that it could be several weeks before they can be identified. After authorities confirmed Thursday that the remains belonged to Cho, her sister asked for confidentiality in her Facebook statement as her family and friends mourned.
Cho will be remembered, she added, as “a talented musician, incredible pastry chef, hilarious and loyal friend, weirdly intuitive gift giver and possibly the coolest sister one could hope for.”