Authorities Suspect Murder-Suicide in Case of Missing Joshua Tree National Park Couple

Joseph Orbeso (left) and Rachel Nguyen (right). (Photo credit: Orbeso and Nguyen families)

The story of two hikers feared lost in Joshua Tree National Park — located approximately 2 hours drive east of Los Angeles — has taken a dark turn this week. Three months after the couple — 22-year-old Joseph Orbeso and 20-year-old Rachel Nguyen — was reported missing after embarking on a trip to the national park for Nguyen’s birthday, two bodies were found in an apparent “embrace” in a remote part of the park.

The couple was reported missing in late July after failing to check out of their AirBnB. Authorities discovered their car at a trail-head at Joshua Tree National Park, which prompted a search-and-rescue operation that spent nearly 2100 hours scouring the park for the missing hikers before scaling back operations in August. Nonetheless, family of the missing hikers never gave up hope that the two would be found.

On Sunday, a park ranger discovered two bodies suspected to be that of Orbeso and Nguyen in a steep canyon north of the park’s Maze Trail Loop. Now, authorities confirm the identities of the bodies and report that autopsy results also suggest that the couple likely died of an apparent murder-suicide.

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