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I-Team: Missing hiker’s father continues search for son

Developing details in the missing hiker case out of Joshua Tree where Joseph Orbeso and Rachel Nguyen have last seen two months ago.

We’ve learned while there’s been an active search in Joshua Tree National Park for the pair for 8 weeks, now an investigation outside the park has intensified with the United States Marshals Service getting involved.

Watch: Part one of Karen Devine’s special I-Team investigation: “Joshua Tree Mystery”

For this I-team special report, “Joshua Tree Mystery”, Karen Devine went along as Orbeso’s father, Gilbert, made his weekly trip to the park searching for his missing son.

The sun is just coming up at Joshua Tree National Park and a handful of people have come out on a Saturday to help Orbeso search for his son. It’s been 8 weeks since Joseph Orbeso and his friend Rachel Nguyen disappeared.

Nguyen’s car found at the Maze loop trailhead on July 28th — a day after they had reportedly left a local Airbnb to hike in the National Park.

Gilbert Orbeso tells Devine, “Physically, it’s taken a toll, but I still feel like I need to come every weekend until I find something.”

A dedicated group of people will not allow Orbeso to go alone to search for his son, they have promised to meet him every weekend to make sure they map out and grid search ten-acre sections of the rough terrain, brave the triple-digit heat with safety in. Some are former Joshua Tree Search and Rescue members who know the risks.

“It’s a blessing to know that people are there for you, all the support, very much appreciated,” says Orbeso.

As we first broke here on KESQ, there is an active search for Orbeso and Nguyen outside of the park. We’ve learned the U.S. Marshals now getting involved, sending four agents to the area to follow some leads. I asked Orbeso if he thinks there’s a possibility the pair are somewhere else.

“Yes always that’s why we did, announced in the media a reward cause of the possibility they may be out of the park”

But, that doesn’t stop this father from driving in from the Los Angeles area every Saturday to search for clues in the park. He tells Devine he’s just recently learned that authorities had been looking into some leads concerning his son and Nguyen, including alleged sightings at another Airbnb in the area and the discovery of 4 types of hallucinogenic drugs at the house they had rented.

“It was very hard, you know, and I can say that we were close to Joseph and mom always talked to Joseph and he was pretty responsible,” says Orbeso.

Orbeso says, if he could talk to his son he would tell him he misses him and he loves him. And, even with seemingly new leads outside of the park, he says he won’t stop his Saturday trek to Joshua Tree National Park.

“As long as it takes, I’m driven, and he’s our son, we love him, as long as it takes.”

Orbeso says he is encouraged the by new information that U.S. Marshals are helping in the investigation to find his son and Rachel Nguyen. I reached out to Nguyen’s family and they are not speaking out publicly on the case at this time.

If you have any information or you think you’ve seen something that may help investigators in this case call (760) 831-7633.

Do you have a tip you want the I-Team to investigate?
Call 760-773-3333 or email

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