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'We Want Answers': Remains Found In Desert Identified As Missing New Jersey Woman Lauren Cho

Lauren Cho vanished after walking away from her artist-oriented Airbnb rental in Yucca Valley over the summer.

By Gina Tron
Lauren Cho Pd

Human remains that were discovered in California during the search to find Lauren Cho have been positively identified as the missing New Jersey woman this week.

The San Bernardino County Coroner’s Division has “positively identified the human remains to be Lauren Cho,” a Thursday statement from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Office reads.

The division notes that no further information will be released on this case pending toxicology test results.

Cho's remains were discovered on Oct. 9 in a California open desert terrain near her most recent home, an artist-oriented Airbnb rental in Yucca Valley. The 30-year-old, who loved to be called “El,” vanished after walking away from the community on the afternoon of June 28.

Cho was distraught when she was last seen, according to her friend, Jeff Frost. He told local outlet KESQ in July that she had "some wishes to self-harm” before she walked into the nearby desert hills without her phone or any sustenance. 

Cho and her former boyfriend, Cody Orell, drove across the country from New Jersey in 2020, kicking off their new West Coast life by converting a school bus into a food truck in Bombay Beach. Most recently, in Yucca, Cho was working as a private chef for a collection of Airbnbs called The Whole. Her friends claim that Orell was the last person to have seen her alive.

Police have not said that they suspect any foul play in the case.

As a response to the enormous amount of attention that murder victim Gabby Petito received following her vanishing, an outcry for attention to be put on Cho's case ensued; her family created a Facebook page called "Missing Person: Lauren 'El' Cho" to raise awareness. On the page, her sister wrote that she was “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 where El really shines is as an aunt.“

Friends had also created a website for Cho, in which they celebrate her talents, including her soprano voice

“We want answers,” they said in a statement earlier this month. They also pointed out that “some are quick to post on social media sites that Lauren was suicidal.”

The author of the statement questioned this notion. 

“Suicide by exposure is extremely uncommon due to the length of time it takes for one to succumb to the environment,” they stated.

Cho had parrotlet named Porkchop that “she didn’t like to leave,” according to her website. Since Cho vanished, the bird has died. 

“Since El’s disappearance, Porkchop became sick and has succumbed to the illness,” the sire states.