By Gail Fry & Mark Gutglueck
An advisory issued by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department on Thursday, October 28 stated that the human remains located on October 9, 2021 in an area described as “open desert” in Yucca Valley have been confirmed as those of Lauren Cho, who went missing four months ago.
“The San Bernardino County Coroner’s Division has positively identified the human remains to be Lauren Cho, 30-year-old resident of New Jersey,” the advisory states. “The cause and manner of death is pending toxicology results. No further information will be released on this case until such time toxicology results are available and new information is discovered as a result.”
An individual close to the search and investigation told the Sentinel it appears there was no foul play involved, and that Cho perished after she ill-advisedly walked off into the desert alone on a summer afternoon with very bright, indeed blinding, sun and temperatures in excess of 100 degrees. She did not have with her any water or her cell phone, and it appears she became disoriented and could not find her way back to where she was staying or a less unforgiving location.
According to information provided by the sheriff’s department on October 10, the previous day, October 9, 2021, “unidentified human remains were located in the rugged terrain of the open desert of Yucca Valley.”
Cho, a musical, visual and vegetarian culinary artist who withdrew from her position as a music teacher in New Jersey early this year to go on a road trip with her boyfriend, Cody Orell, had visited several artists’ communities before alighting at the bed & breakfast inn dubbed “The Whole” owned by filmmaker/musician Tao Ruspoli, located in the 8600 block of Benmar Trail just outside the westerly Yucca Valley town limits. Cho and Orell had obtained a decommissioned school bus which they were working to transform into a mobile diner, from which Cho was hoping to feature meals to customers while continuing to travel up and down the Pacific Coast. They were engaged in the makeover of the bus while staying on the grounds of the Whole.
Based upon information available to the Sentinel from a variety of official and unofficial sources, Cho, who was in a state of mental/emotional agitation, at around 2 p.m. in the afternoon of June 28, 2021, wearing casual attire and Doc Martens hiking boots, headed off from the Whole into the desert generally in the direction of Hoopa Road and the hilly terrain separating Yucca Valley and Morongo Valley. When after three hours she had not returned, Orell phoned the sheriff’s office around 5:10 p.m., after which a search for Cho was initiated but proved unsuccessful.
The sheriff’s department’s nomenclature for the Cho matter bears the case numbers 092101115 and H#2021-114.
By Gail Fry & Mark Gutglueck