Rachel Nguyen and Joseph Orbeso went hiking in Joshua Tree National Park in California in July. When they failed to return and check out of their rental home, their families searched endlessly for the lost young couple.
Nearly three months and 2,100 hours later, their bodies were found on October 15 “locked in an embrace,” The Associated Press reports.
Joseph’s father, Gilbert Orbeso, told KESQ that he knew he was going to find the pair. And although he is devastated with the outcome, he feels “relief” after recovering the bodies. He said:
“I feel like we have closure. We know we found them. That was our main goal, to find them. And I’m glad we did that with these great people here with me and the rest of everyone.”
A recent news release has pieced together the cause of death — a “sympathetic murder-suicide.” According to the news release, their bodies were found under a tree, with their clothes covering their legs in a bid to protect themselves from the sun. They appeared to have been rationing their food. They had no water.
A gun found next to the remains was registered in Orbeso’s name. It is speculated that perhaps he brought it along in order to protect Nguyen. Orbeso is believed to have shot Nguyen before pulling the trigger on himself.
Orbeso’s best friend, Austin Young, told the AP that he thinks the heat became too much to bear for the couple. Rather than suffer a “slow painful death,” he said:
“They made the choice of a quick death.”
Cindy Bachman, a spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, said:
“Since we don’t have any evidence (note, message) to tell us why the shooting occurred, we are left to speculate. Knowing that they rationed food, had no water and were seeking shade certainly sheds a different light on the apparent dire circumstances.”
The Nguyen family is merely happy to have closure on the case. In a statement reported by the AP, the family said:
“We hold no grudges against Joseph or the Orbeso family. We thank God that we’ll be able to give Rachel a proper burial and lay her to rest.”