Investigators searching for an Oak Ridge woman who now lives in California and disappeared under suspicious circumstances two weeks ago have covered more than 200 square miles of remote desert, authorities said Friday.
The search for Erin Corwin, who is 19 years old and pregnant, has been concentrated around the Joshua Tree National Park in southern California. The vast high desert reserve is east of Los Angeles and just south of the Twentynine Palms Marine Corps base, where Corwin lives with her husband, U.S. Marine Cpl. Jonathan Wayne Corwin, who is also from Oak Ridge.
The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department said the search has found no sign of Corwin, and her disappearance does not appear to be voluntary.
The search will continue as necessary throughout the weekend using search and rescue volunteers from the San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County, and Kern County Sheriff’s Departments, and Joshua Tree National Park Service rangers, authorities said.
Investigators said they haven’t released much information about Corwin’s disappearance because of its suspicious nature.
“When conducting investigations like these, investigators must keep in mind the potential for this search to turn into a criminal investigation at any time,” a San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department press release said. “Therefore, the information released about the search techniques, search areas, and interviews will be minimal.”
San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department investigators have been helped in their search, which has included air and ground crews, by up to 50 or more search and rescue workers, in addition to members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. But so far, no new developments have been announced in the case since Corwin’s car was found near the Twentynine Palms base on Monday, June 30. The blue 2013 Toyota Corolla, California license plate number 7CJX519, was found near the Marine base but more than eight miles from the Joshua Tree park entrance, according to KFMB-TV in San Diego. Authorities said there was no sign of Corwin’s direction of travel or location.
The Desert Sun of Palm Springs, California, reported that the car was located near the back entrance of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center.
An animal lover who volunteers at a horse rescue near Twentynine Palms, Corwin was last seen leaving her home on her way to Joshua Tree National Park at about 7 a.m. Saturday, June 28. Jonathan Corwin reported her missing the next day, Sunday, June 29.
Corwin was reported to have been going to the park to look for places for her and her mother, Lore Heavilin of Oak Ridge, to take photos during Lore’s visit to California to celebrate Erin’s birthday on July 15. They were also planning a trip to San Diego to visit Sea World and the San Diego Zoo.
Family and friends said Corwin’s phone has been dead or turned off since Saturday, June 28, and Facebook messages, text messages, and voice mails have not been returned.
Corwin is a white female adult, and she is 5’2” and weighs 120 pounds. She has brown hair and blue eyes, and she is three months pregnant. She has no history of medical and/or psychological issues, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department said.
Corwin had announced in January that she was pregnant, but she suffered a miscarriage in February and was pregnant again, Corwin’s sister-in-law DeeAnna Heavilin told The Desert Sun. The Corwins married in November 2012.
The newspaper said the FBI, Border Patrol, and homicide investigators are assisting in the investigation.
Authorities, family, and friends are urging anyone who might have information about Erin Corwin to contact the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department Specialized Investigation Division at (909) 387-3589 or Sheriff’s dispatch at (909) 387-8313. Callers wishing to remain anonymous can call the WeTip Hotline at (800) 78-CRIME (27463) or go to www.wetip.com.
Authorities said Joshua Tree National Park is very rocky and has some extremely dangerous areas. Daytimes temperatures can soar into the triple digits in wide open desert areas.
Family and friends have started a Facebook page called Locate Erin.
A fundraising page has been set up on GoFundMe to help with expenses associated with the investigation, to possibly offer a reward, and to assist the San Bernardino Mountain Search and Rescue Team with any other missing people.