Human remains discovered in the California desert earlier this month have been identified as missing 30-year-old New Jersey woman Lauren Cho, who had vanished after leaving her Airbnb in June, officials confirmed on Thursday.
Cho, known to friends and family as “El,” was identified by the San Bernardino County Coroner’s Office, after remains had been found in the desert wilderness in Southern California’s Yucca Valley.
The cause of death is still pending toxicology results, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
“No further information will be released on this case until such time toxicology results are available and new information is discovered as a result,” officials said.
The Post has reached out to Cho’s family for comment on the announcement.
Cho, a graduate of Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, had recently relocated to the West Coast from New Jersey where she worked as a high school music teacher in search of a new life as a pastry chef.
She had been staying at a Benmar Trail Rental with friends and an ex-boyfriend and was last seen on a remote hiking trail on June 28 where she left her personal belongings behind following an argument, sheriffs told CNN.
Cho’s ex-boyfriend, Cory Orell, reported her missing about three hours later, telling authorities she was “suffering from mental illness,”authorities said. The Sheriff’s department said that he was fully cooperating with investigators.
Orell is the last known person to have seen Cho, the Hi-Desert Star reported in July. She drove out west on Orell’s tour bus after the couple had met on Memorial Day Weekend.
Cho’s family released a statement on their website in which they appear to rule out suicide as the cause of death.
”Some are quick to post on social media sites that Lauren was suicidal. However, suicide by exposure is extremely uncommon due to the length of time it takes for one to succumb to the environment,” the family said.
In December, the couple finished their trek together in Bombay Beach, where Orell said Cho was working to convert an old school bus into a food truck. Orell said she walked away from him as he got on the bus.
“There was a 10-minute window there and she evaporated,” Orell told the outlet. “I searched all in the hills and no tracks, anywhere.”
The family has provided public updates on the search for Cho on a Facebook page, where they shared the news the she had been identified on Thursday.
“We want answers. Lauren “El” Cho is a talented musician, vocalist, chef, baker, artist, photographer, former music educator and former piercing apprentice,” a statement on the website dedicated to Cho reads. “She is the most loving, caring and loyal aunt, sister and friend, and the most hilarious person you could ever meet. And we cannot give up on her.”
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