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Lauren Cho confirmed dead after remains found in Yucca Valley in search for chef whose case was compared to Gabby Petito

HUMAN remains found in the Yucca Valley are that of missing woman Lauren Cho.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department confirmed the news on Thursday. A cause of death is unknown.

Cho, a chef from New Jersey who was known to friends as "El," was last seen alive on June 28 after setting out on a solo walk from an Airbnb rental where she was staying with friends.

The case gained renewed attention last month when it was compared to the disappearance of hiker Gabby Petito.

Critics accused law enforcement of using more resources to search for Gabby because she is white, while other missing persons including Cho, who is of Asian descent, got less attention due to their race.

 The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department (SBSD) announced a body had been found in the Cho case earlier this month.

Officials said then that it could take weeks to confirm the identity of the remains and the cause of death.

One of Cho's close friends reacted to that news in an Instagram story.

"We will make sure you get the attention, respect and justice you deserve," user @diamondheartstudios wrote over a photo of Cho.


Cho's former boyfriend, whom she was staying with when she disappeared, spoke out about the mystery last month.

“There was a 10-minute window there and she evaporated,” Cody Orell told the Hi-Desert Star.

Orell said when Cho set out for her solo walk at about 3pm on June 28, he hung back in a converted tour bus.

But when Cho didn’t return and left behind her phone, water and food - he started to look for her.

“I searched all in the hills and no tracks, anywhere,” Orell said.


According to the sheriff’s report, Orell rang various friends before he called authorities at 5.13pm after last seeing Cho vanish from the Ben Mar Trail.

As they looked for Cho, they couldn’t find any trace. 

“They found all of my tracks and my friends’ tracks, but none of hers,” Orell told the publication.

Cho, who was known to her friends as “El” and is an artist, a black belt and a chef, reportedly walked into the hills between Yucca Valley and Morongo Valley.

Friends said she was "upset" and potentially "suffering from mental distress" when she went into the desert alone.


Authorities have spent months tirelessly trying to find Cho, a New Jersey transplant who recently relocated to sunnier pastures.

The woman who is known to be a talented soprano singer, fled the East Coast to join Orell in a converted tour bus, winding up in a ghost town turned artist’s commune called Bombay Beach on the edge of California’s inland Salton Sea, the Independent reported.

Back in July, the authorities sent flights up above as well as dispatched K-9 units to retrieve her back to safety. 

“On July 24, 2021, Sheriff's Department fixed wing aircraft conducted aerial searches of the remote mountain terrain near the scene,” the SBSD reported.

A week later, “seven canines searched the last known location where Cho was seen and surrounding unincorporated areas for evidence.”

Search and rescue teams have also relied on drones, helicopters and search parties on foot to search the surrounding areas for any sign of Cho.

Reports show the police have access to Cho's phone, computer, and car.


Little information is available surrounding Cho's case. 

A Facebook group was launched giving people a forum to share any tips or sightings.

It reflects on how special Cho is to so many. 

According to one post: “El is many things... a talented musician, an incredible baker, a hilarious and loyal friend, a strangely intuitive gift giver, and probably the coolest sister one could hope for…

“But this is where El really shines: as an aunt.”

Cho's parents apparently have maintained touch with both Korean news outlets and churches along the West Coast in an effort to grow the search.

It’s unknown if the authorities suspect any foul play in Cho’s disappearance. 

But a Facebook page post acknowledge the haunting comparisons with Gabby Petito’s initial missing case - that has now tragically become a murder mystery. 

It reads: “We realize that on the surface, the public information for both cases share some similarities. We understand the frustration many of you have expressed about how and why certain cases receive national coverage.

“Ultimately, these two cases are not the same and the differences run deeper than what meets the public eye. We empathize deeply with Gabby’s family and hope that both our cases bring forth positive resolution.”

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