Calif. Authorities Ramp Up Search for Lauren Cho, the N.J. Woman Who Went Missing Near Joshua Tree

Lauren Cho was last seen on June 28 walking away from the home she had been staying at in Yucca Valley, California

Lauren Cho
Lauren Cho. Photo: Morongo Basin Sheriff's Department

Authorities in California have ramped up their search for Lauren Cho, the 30-year-old woman from New Jersey who went missing near Joshua Tree National Park almost three months ago.

Cho was last seen around 5:10 p.m. on Saturday, June 28, when she was walking away from the home she had been staying at in Yucca Valley, according to the Morongo Basin Sheriff's Department.

The department announced on Tuesday that they are now working with investigators from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department's Specialized Investigations Division in tracking down Cho's whereabouts.

Investigators have conducted aerial searches and ground searches — including one involving seven search dogs — near where Cho was last seen in July, but have been unable to locate her, according to authorities.

Lauren Cho
Lauren Cho. Morongo Basin Sheriff's Department

Cho's friend Cody Orell previously told Hi-Desert Star that Cho planned on meeting someone that Sunday, but "wasn't saying who."

"I didn't pry into it then, but of course now I wish…." said Orell, who was staying with Cho on a friend's property after the pair had driven from New Jersey to California on a tour bus.

Orell told the local newspaper that he was in the bus when Cho seemed to have walked away. "There was a 10-minute window there and she evaporated," he said.

According to Orell, Cho quit her job as a music teacher in New Jersey to move out west to "follow her dreams." He said that Cho had just purchased an old school bus to convert into a food truck when she disappeared.

"She was in the middle of working on her bus," Orell said. "The day she went missing she texted me earlier asking for some help on it."

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A sheriff's report obtained by Desert-Hi Star said that Cho was upset on the day she vanished and walked into the hills between Yucca Valley and Morongo Valley. Her friends reportedly told authorities that she did not take her phone, water or food.

Cho also left behind her pet parakeet Pork Chop, according to Orell. "She would be worried if she was going to be away from him for a day. So that's another thing that's worrying me," he told the Hi-Desert Star.

Authorities describe Cho as a 5-foot-3 Asian woman with black hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing a yellow T-shirt and jean shorts.

Those who may have information on Cho's whereabouts are urged to contact Detective Edward Hernandez or Sergeant Justin Giles at (909) 387-3589, or the We-Tip hotline at 800-78-CRIME (27463).

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