A missing hiker’s husband said police are now eyeing him as a prime suspect in his wife’s disappearance, despite his continued claims of innocence.
Robert Thomas' wife, Barbara Thomas, disappeared a week ago on July 12 during a short hike with Robert in the Mojave desert. The 69-year-old — who was wearing a black bikini, red baseball hat, and tan hiking boots at the time — had gone up ahead on the trail before he said she vanished.
“That’s the last I ever saw of her,” Robert told Inside Edition.
Police are now considering him a prime suspect in the disappearance, because “it was just the two of us” on the hike, Robert told the outlet.
He said authorities have told him the polygraph test he took showed deception, however, he claimed he had not had any sleep before he took the test.
Robert has said he and his wife drove their camper to an area just north of Interstate 40 in California to go for a short two-mile hike, local ABC affiliate KTNV reports.
After pulling alongside the road, Robert said the pair grabbed a pack of beer and some water for their trek as they set out to explore rock formations. As the pair headed back, he stopped to take a photo of one of the rock formations and his wife decided to continue ahead, rounding a corner and disappearing from sight.
He assumed she had just gone back to the camper, but when he arrived a short time later, the camper was still locked.
“I hollered her name and I waved my arms, and I looked around the area and I saw that she wasn’t anywhere around,” he told Inside Edition. “She didn’t respond. I got really panicky.”
Robert called 911 and authorities initiated a search for the missing 69-year-old, who Robert said only had a can of beer with her when she disappeared.
Authorities — including numerous Search & Rescue members, deputies, K9’s, park rangers and the Sheriff’s Aviation unit —continue to scour the vast desert for any sign of the missing grandmother.
On Wednesday, July 17, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a post on social media that it was searching in the Kelbaker/Hidden Hills area near I-40.
As the days stretch on since Barbara was last seen alive, authorities have become increasingly concerned about the high temperatures, which have reached more than 100 degrees on some days, and Barbara’s lack of any provisions or cell phone.
Robert believes someone may have picked her up as she was trying to cross the road to get back to the couple’s camper.
"I feel like someone did pick her up because she was wearing a bikini, she had a beer in her hand and she was ahead of me and she had to cross that road," he said.
He called her the “love of my life” and pleaded for anyone with information about the case to come forward.
“I just want my wife back and if somebody out there has her, which I feel somebody does, please drop her off at a safe place where she can contact us and that’s it,” he told KTNV.
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