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I-Team: U.S. Marshals join search for missing couple in Joshua Tree

We’ve learned the U.S. Marshals Service has joined in the search for two people who were last seen in Joshua Tree in late July.

Joseph Orbeso and Rachel Nguyen, disappeared, presumably in Joshua Tree National Park. Orbeso’s father told News Channel 3’s I-team reporter Karen Devine U.S. Marshals will send in a team of four agents to help with leads outside the park.

Watch: Part Two of Joshua Tree Mystery

In part one of Devine’s special I-team investigation: Joshua Tree Mystery, she talks to a man who says he saw the pair after they were declared missing.


Joshua Tree resident Edward Wamhoff says on August 4th he picked up the local newspaper and immediately recognized Joseph Orbeso and Rachel Nguyen, the pair missing, at that time for more than a week.

“I seen their pictures in the paper and I thought oh no that’s them,” says Wamhoff.

Wamhoff is convinced Orbeso, Nguyen and another couple were staying at an Airbnb rental located across the street from his house after the dates they were declared missing in Joshua Tree National Park in late July.

“That’s when I went down to file a report saying that I seen them, that they weren’t missing,” said Wamhoff.

Orbeso and Nguyen checked in to an Airbnb in the high desert on Wednesday July 26th. The owner, who spoke with Devine on the telephone said the pair planned to hike at Joshua Tree National Park Thursday, July 27th and he confirmed with Devine that a neighbor saw them leave before 6 a.m. By Friday, when they hadn’t checked out of the Airbnb, the owner called the sheriff’s department. Some belongings, including 4 types of hallucinogenic drugs, were discovered in the rental, suggesting they never came back.

Security cameras at the west entrance of Joshua Tree National Park shows Nguyen’s maroon lexus entering at 6:45 a.m. on thursday the 27th, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Devine tried to obtain that security footage, but the Park Service has yet to release it. Nguyen’s car was found a couple hours later at the trail head of The Maze Loop about a mile and half in.

At that point a massive search and rescue effort begins. Wamhoff recalls seeing Orbeso and Nguyen arrive at the Airbnb across the street from his house the night of Thursday July 27th, the day they went missing. He tells Devine shortly after they arrived another couple showed up and the four of them were in the house until the following Tuesday, August 1st.

Devine took this tip to the lead investigator in the case, Detective John Wilson.
After reviewing the case for two hours, off camera , Wilson told Devine
he had thoroughly checked out Wamhoff’s story and found out some surprising information.

“We discovered that Joseph Orbeso and another man named Javier *had* rented that particular Airbnb July 12 through the 14th two weeks prior to the dates Orbeso and Nguyen went missing,” said Wilson.

So who is Javier? Detective Wilson explained that he is currently deployed in Japan and isn’t considered a suspect in the case. Detective Wilson was allowed access to the home and told Devine there was no sign Orbeso or Nguyen had been there. And, the owner of the house confirmed it was occupied by other renters during the search for the missing pair.

Wamhoff stands by his story and timeline. Detective Wilson says his department has checked out a number of sightings and other leads outside of the park, all have been dead-ends. But he stresses they will continue take every lead seriouly outside the park.

Thursday night at 6, see I-Team Investigator Karen Devine’s exclusive interview with Joseph Orbeso’s father, Gilbert.
We joined him on his weekly hike to search for his missing son inside Joshua Tree National Park. Find out how he’s reacting to the news of the investigation spanning outside the park and what he would say to his son, if he could.

MORE: I-Team Investigations {“url”:”https://twitter.com/KESQ/status/910614904796618752″,”author_name”:”KESQ News Channel 3″,”author_url”:”https://twitter.com/KESQ”,”html”:”&#lt;blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”&#gt;&#lt;p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”&#gt;Tonight at 6, &#lt;a href=”https://twitter.com/KarenDevineKESQ”&#gt;@KarenDevineKESQ&#lt;/a&#gt; breaks new details on a lengthy investigation into missing hikers. Do you have a tip for the I-Team? &#lt;a href=”https://t.co/hs7TwqSlJM”&#gt;pic.twitter.com/hs7TwqSlJM&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/p&#gt;– KESQ News Channel 3 (@KESQ) &#lt;a href=”https://twitter.com/KESQ/status/910614904796618752″&#gt;September 20, 2017&#lt;/a&#gt;&#lt;/blockquote&#gt;n&#lt;script async src=”//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js” charset=”utf-8″&#gt;&#lt;/script&#gt;”,”width”:550,”height”:null,”type”:”rich”,”cache_age”:”3153600000″,”provider_name”:”Twitter”,”provider_url”:”https://twitter.com”,”version”:”1.0″}

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

KESQ News Team

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