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Massive search underway for high desert woman who disappeared last week

A desperate search is on for Lauren Cho, also known as "El," who mysteriously disappeared from Yucca Valley last Monday afternoon.

Friends and family initially thought she walked off into the desert hills, taking with her only the clothes she was wearing.

Jeff Frost is one of the people leading the search efforts. He said Cho was upset when she vanished. "She expressed some wishes to self harm before she left, and that’s why we have the urgency trying to locate her," he said. "Looked everywhere we can from 29 to Barstow."

For the last week, a massive search effort has been underway involving police, search and rescuers, hikers and trackers – using a helicopter and drones. So far, Frost said no signs of Cho were found.

"We searched extensively in the field and found absolutely no tracks - she had Doc Marten boots on," he said.

He said authorities now believe Cho may have hitchhiked out of the high desert, which led the volunteer searchers to canvas the southland.

"We have gone thousands of miles," Frost said. "Tirelessly went to gas stations and pasted up fliers in the low desert, the high desert; we went out to San Diego because she said in the week before she disappeared that she just wanted to go to the beach."

Cho is a visual artist, Frost said, as well as a classically trained singe, a chef with a dream of building a roving food bus, and a silly, fun friend to be around.

"I hope that she can really just realize how many people love and care about her," Frost said. "And that she can use all of this as a catalyst for healing, and hopefully we can too."

Frost said Cho's passwords, laptop, cell phone and car have been turned over to police. The San Bernardino Sheriff's Dept. said their investigation is ongoing.

Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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