Missing Marine Wife Erin Corwin Found Dead; Alleged Lover Arrested
The body of Erin Corwin was found Saturday in a mine shaft located outside Joshua Tree National Park, officials say.
Through the use of dental records, authorities were able to identify the 19-year-old woman who went missing in June. They declined to release the manner of death.
“We were determined to find Erin Corwin and return her remains to her family,” Capt. Dale Mondary of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department tells PEOPLE.
Hours after her body was identified, law enforcement issued an arrest warrant for her neighbor and alleged lover, Christopher Lee. He is being held in Anchorage, Alaska, and awaiting extradition to Twentynine Palms, California, where Corwin lived with her husband, U.S. Marine Cpl. Jon Corwin.
With assistance from the FBI, officials from the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department found the body about 140 feet inside a mine shaft. Due to the depth and air quality of the mine shaft, Corwin’s body was not recovered until 6:30 p.m. the following day. Lee was arrested at 10 p.m.
Authorities have not confirmed whether Corwin, who would have turned 20 in July, was pregnant at the time of her death. Officials say that there is “potential for more arrests,” adding that other evidence was found in the shaft.
Corwin was last seen leaving her house around 7 a.m. on June 28 after telling her husband she was headed to Joshua Tree to find activities to do with her mother during an upcoming visit. She had also planned to surprise her mom with the news that she was two months pregnant.
“Jon kept trying to call her, and figured there was no cell service at the park,” Jon’s mother, Sheila Braden, has said. “By the evening, he started to get worried and started calling around.” Officials found her blue 2013 Toyota Corolla abandoned about two miles from the military base, Braden said.
Jon himself has not commented per military orders.
“Thank you all for your prayers and support over the last seven weeks. We appreciate all of the words of encouragement and compassion we have been shown during the search for Erin. We are also forever grateful for the volunteers and branches of law enforcement who made it possible to finally bring Erin home,” a statement on the Locate Erin Facebook page reads.
“Though we were praying for a different outcome, we are relieved to have this part of the investigation behind us and to be able to begin mourning the loss of our sweet girl. Please continue to pray for our family and that justice will be found for Erin. We now ask that our privacy be respected as we enter into this new stage of grief and healing. Thank you all!”