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Person found dead in Joshua Tree National Park identified as missing man

UPDATE 5/27/21:

The Coroner's office has positively identified the person found dead at Joshua Tree National Park as 20-year-old Joseph John Alvarez Espinosa.

Espinosa had been reported missing around the area on May 16.


Original Report 5/26/21:

The body of an unidentified man was found Wednesday morning in Joshua Tree National Park.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department confirmed the body was found in the open desert within park boundary at approximately 10:55 a.m. on Wednesday.

The body was found by crews taking park in an active search and rescue operation being conducted by the National Park Service, southeast of Ironage Road and Twentynine Palms Highway in Wonder Valley, officials say.

Crews were out at the park searching for Joseph John Alvarez Espinosa (aka Joey), 20, who has been missing since May 16. A news release by the Sheriff's Department revealed that Espinosa had been dropped off in the area of Ironage Road and Twentynine Palms Highway in Wonder Valley by his grandmother after he told family he wanted to go to "29 Palms" for religious purposes.

On Monday, the search was expanded to Joshua Tree National Park after reports that he was spotted in the park over the weekend.

Members of the San Bernardino County Coroner's Division and Sheriff's Aviation responded to the scene to assume the death investigation and recovery. The identification of the deceased male is pending at this time.

Anyone with information related to this investigation is urged to contact Detective Aaron Halloway with the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department Morongo Basin Station at (760) 366-4175. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may contact We-Tip at 1-888-78-CRIME.

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Jesus Reyes

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