CALIFORNIA — Searchers found human remains Saturday in the search for a New Jersey woman who went missing months ago while on a trip with her boyfriend.
The remains, which have not yet been identified, were taken to the coroner’s office so officials can determined the victim’s identity and cause of death, according to the Morongo Basin Sheriff’s Station. The process could take several weeks.
Lauren “El” Cho, 30, worked as an apprentice at Diamond Heart Studios before she left for her trip. She went missing in June.
“She is a real person, with real friends & family here in New Jersey,” the tattoo studio posted on Instagram. “Keep advocating for her to be found. Don’t buy into the speculation. Keep searching and sharing.”
Family described Cho as a a talented musician and incredible baker. They said she’s hilarious and a loyal friend. Cho’s the “coolest sister one could hope for” and “really shines” as an aunt.
Her disappearance was highlighted after Gabby Petito, a white 22-year-old woman, went missing in Wyoming during a cross-country trip with her boyfriend. The Petito case drew a frenzy of coverage on traditional and social media, bringing new attention to a phenomenon known as “missing white woman syndrome.”
Cho’s case was highlighted by some under the #findgabypetito hashtag on Twitter. Many have used the hashtag to draw more attention to cases of missing people of color.
According to Mara Rodriguez with the San Bernadino Sheriff’s Department, Cho “basically walked away with just the clothes she had on. No cell phone, no personal items, no money, no nothing.”
Cho was wearing jean shorts and a yellow t-shirt. She was reportedly last seen at the remote intersection of Hoopa Road & Benmar Trail in Yucca Valley, where the terrain and temperatures are unforgiving.
On the day she went missing, it would have been about 110 degrees.
“It’s very hot out in the summer months and even in the evening,” Rodriguez said. “So being out there with no water, nothing to make contact with anybody, that’s going to be an issue.”
Anyone with information regarding the search for Ms. Cho is urged to contact Detective Edward Hernandez or Sergeant Justin Giles, Specialized Investigations Division, at (909) 387-3589. You may remain anonymous by contacting the We-Tip hotline at 800-78-CRIME (27463) or www.wetip.com.