Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday

General Palm Springs area.

Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday

Postby Ed » Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:08 pm

OK. I don't care what you call the investigation, missing persons or criminal. Certainly it would begin as 'missing persons.' Would you contact family, friends, fellow students, co-workers, etc., and question them about the temperament, character, relationship, mental health history, etc. of the two missing hikers?
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday

Postby Sean » Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:27 pm

Ed wrote:There are other definitions, which equate proof, but not evidence, with a high degree of certainty. I think that is the normal way the words are employed.


Yes. But I would phrase it like this: proof is a collection of pieces of evidence which together offer a high degree of certainty about a particular conclusion. The proof is whatever combined evidence you have.

The simple fact that this couple never checked out of their motel room does not tell us what happened. The fact that their car was abandoned at the JTree trailhead does not tell us what happened. Nor can we tell what happened by the isolated facts that: a) their footprints indicated they may have gone in circles; b) his phone pinged a cell tower at 4pm, placing them still somewhere in the Park nine hours after entering at 6:45am; and c) it was extremely hot and dry in that desert.

In isolation, none of these facts constitute direct evidence for a high degree of certainty about much. But taken together, as proof, or a collection of circumstantial evidences, they offer a pretty solid view of what happened to these two. And it doesn't involve foul play.
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday

Postby Ed » Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:37 pm

I am in perfect agreement with everything you said, Sean. Except the last two sentences.
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday

Postby Sean » Thu Aug 10, 2017 6:39 pm

Ed wrote:Would you contact family, friends, fellow students, co-workers, etc., and question them about the temperament, character, relationship, mental health history, etc. of the two missing hikers?


Sure. I'd want to understand what the subjects are like and what they are capable of doing.
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday

Postby cynthia23 » Fri Aug 11, 2017 12:02 pm

There's actually rather limited evidence they are lost in JT--a car parked at a trailhead and a few footprints. The cell phone ping suggests Orbeso's presence, to be sure, but not much else. George Land went out of his way to say that they'd found no other items and that in many years of SAR he'd never seen that. There is also one very large point of evidence to suggest crime should be explored, i.e. the extraordinary failure of a lengthy search to find their bodies, where bodies would normally be. As for statistics, OtherHand, much earlier in this thread, stated that JOSAR finds over 97 percent of the lost, either alive or dead. As far as I know, in modern times (i.e. after the invention of rationalized search techniques) Ewasko is the only lost hiker to have never been found in JT, and he was in a more inaccessible area of the park.

One is far more likely, statistically, to be a murder victim than to die of hyperthermia while hiking--CDC reports 15,872 murders in 2014, but in the years 2010 to 2014, only 192 SAR missions resulted in a hiker fatalities (more people than that die in National Parks, but the majority of deaths are car accidents and drownings.)

The failure of an extensive search to find two lost hikers in a limited area must be investigated rationally. Pat phrases such as "JT sucks people in' or "After all, it's the size of Rhode Island' are fatalistic memes, not actual explanations. JT isn't a supernatural black vortex, just a large piece of dirt with many rocks. The total disappearance of two people is not normal and must be explored using all possible avenues, including law enforcement.

I'll emphasize one last time that my speculations about crime in no way mean I think 'that's what happened'. If anything, I lean toward the 'died in a crevice or cave, perhaps after using drugs' possibility. It would be weird, but weirdness might be the best explanation here. But all explanations are worth considering, and I see no reason any of us should self-censor because it's 'disrespectful' to speculate. This is a hiking discussion board, not a family memorial service.
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday

Postby Sean » Fri Aug 11, 2017 2:38 pm

cynthia23 wrote:As for statistics, OtherHand, much earlier in this thread, stated that JOSAR finds over 97 percent of the lost, either alive or dead.


Notice though that he did not suggest foul play even after admittedly making up that statistic based on experience. Whereas you started with the murder/suicide/foul play line a whole two days before he mentioned the percentage figure. You merely tried to incorporate his approximate stat into your already-formed "grim thought." And now you're still doing it.
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday

Postby Sean » Fri Aug 11, 2017 3:58 pm

A few more notes to address your central argument that not being found by SAR is strange:

1. As far as I can tell, the SAR operation did not begin until approximately 1.5 days after the couple began their hike. Already this is not a normal SAR mountain operation, where an emergency is self-reported or family promptly reports an overdue hiker. In this case Orbeso and Nguyen were reported missing a day later by the motel. SAR had very little info to go on, not knowing the couple's intended destination or time frame. If you're going to point to stats, then at least filter them to reflect cases in which SAR began with such little info and a whole day late.

2. After a day or two, it gets much harder to track a subject. Animals and weather disturb human prints. Scents vanish. Bodies assume air temperature. Etc.

3. The SAR operation was also hindered by the extreme heat, limiting the use of dogs and on-foot personnel.

4. The operation was further hindered by the prohibition of motorized vehicles in the Park. Trails can be covered much faster on motorcycle or ATV.

5. If they were still moving at 4pm, then perhaps they, being young and fit, had the energy to wander out of the search area before dark, but perished during the night or morning the next day.
Last edited by Sean on Fri Aug 11, 2017 4:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday

Postby Ed » Fri Aug 11, 2017 4:05 pm

I am not familiar with the Maze Loop area. I think I will go with Wildhorse's evaluation of it. He is familiar with it, and finds it surprising that the missing hikers were not found after such a long and intensive search, either alive or dead.

I wish this could be a civil discussion. It seems to have passed that point.
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday

Postby OtherHand » Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:30 pm

Seeing as how I've spent more than a little time considering how best to approach posting of details regarding someone's possible death in the middle of nowhere, I'll offer that what I do doesn't involve respect but rather compassion and consideration. In these days of Google, family and friends can easily find any mention of discussions of their missing loved ones anywhere on the Internet. So when I post something, I write it as if a family member were reading it. In fact, I'm doing that as I compose this post. You get me around a campfire, and if I know you, what I say may be very different.

There is something in human nature that loves to speculate about disappearances. Unfortunately, many people use the excuse of "discussing" a case when it is in fact just a form of sensationalistic, lurid entertainment. Now that's not true much here, but for a truly appalling experience have a look at the "WebSleuths" forum, especially the thread on this case. It's Dunning-Kruger squared.

In my opinion, the reason a very few subjects aren't quickly found (the vast majority are) isn't due to suicide or foul play. Rather it's a failure of imagination on the part of the search teams. And I don't say this as denigration of any of the teams out there and I myself have been extremely guilty of this. Every now and then lost or injured subjects do something so unexpected so as to exceed the imaginations of the searchers and can end up in areas that are well out of the active search.

Even so, this has become a rather strange case. Given the area, these two would have been typically found by Saturday, maybe a bit worse for wear, but with a good story. If they were simply lost, travel to the south would have returned them to Park Road. To the north is 29 Palms Highway and homes. To the west is the edge of the park and more homes. The only direction that really gets someone into trouble is heading east or northeast into the nasty jumbled area along the Boy Scout Trail. Given the areas searched to date, this seems most likely to me.

I pretty much hosed up everything bit of media on this case as it unfolded and there were numerous misstatements. Now I don't know if it was just shoddy reporting, but I found much of what was attributed to the park's spokemen George Land to be rather superficial or even misleading (the tracks "going around in circles" sort of thing). Quotes attributed to him regarding the cell phone ping were just nonsensical and almost made me yell at my monitor. That ping is of HUGE importance if parsed by a qualified RF engineer.

OK, you want weirdness?? There is something about this I've never heard of before and there's been no media attention to it that I'm aware of. The following was posted on JTNP's Facebook at the same time the search was being scaled back:

"While resources have been scaled back, a special regional overhead team made up of investigators from Yosemite National Park and Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park have arrived on scene as well as NPS drone specialists from the Grand Canyon."

Ummm...so just what is a "regional overhead team" and why are they called "investigators"?

Oh, and Cynthia, there is another hiker that hasn't been found in JTNP, and it was just barely over a year ago. Curious that it didn't get much coverage compared to this current incident. It's Michael Rodriguez whose vehicle was found on June 30th of last year, just a short distance from the trailhead Ewasko used. He's still out there.
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Re: Young Hikers Missing in Joshua Tree Since Thursday

Postby Wildhorse » Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:15 pm

It is very interesting to read your perspective.

I think regional overhead team may be named by the entity that employees the specialists.

I remembered Michael Rodriguez when you mentioned him. Such a mystery. And sad. I see his published photo and feel sad. I imagine his lonely end and feel sad. Or, I imagine that left JT with someone else to start again somewhere.

So many ghosts haunt JT. Samuelson, Johnny Lang, lonely miners with no remembered name, Bill, Michael and people I have hiked with there and more.
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