Bodies Keep Turning Up In and Around Joshua Tree National Park

Mike Lavery | | Featured ArticleFeatured Article
Joshua
Joshua Tree. Photo: JoshuaTreeLandscapes

National Parks are known for their wilderness, wildlife, and pristine beauty, but Joshua Tree is gaining a different type of reputation. Human remains have been turning up in and around the parks 1,200 square miles with two having been discovered in the past month alone. The crazy thing is, this is nothing new.

Joshua Tree National Park is a small chunk of the 50,000 square mile Mojave Dessert just outside of Palm Springs, CA. Like many National Parks, visitation is up, with about 3 million people expected to pass through this year. The wild and remote nature that attracts tourists to the area(and the famed Joshua Trees) is also what makes it a great place to hide something you don’t want to be found.

The Mojave desert was the rumored body dumping grounds for Vegas mobsters back in the day. With no water around to send your enemies to sleep with the fishes, I guess the desert will have to do. Frank C. Hoebich’s remains were found dumped in the Mojave Desert wrapped in a roll of carpet, taped on both ends back in 2000. I thought they only did that in the movies.

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Cholla Cactus Garden. Photo: Joshua Tree National Park

The most famous case started In February 2010, when all four members of the McStay family went missing from their home in Fallbrook, California. In November 2013, their bodies were discovered by a motorcyclist in two shallow graves outside of Victorville, CA. The murder trial for the accused is set to begin this summer. In 2014, a strangled teenage girl was found at the bottom of an old mine shaft and a couple murder-suicide was widely reported on last fall.

The latest two bodies are still under investigation. The first was skeletal remains located by hikers on the Stubbe Spring Loop Trail and is being assumed to be an accidental death. Temperatures in the summer rarely drop below 100 degrees and the desert takes no prisoners. The second body was in a shallow grave off of Big Horn Pass Road with foul play being likely. Scavengers feeding on the corpse led a hiker to make the discovery.

Finding bodies in a National Park seems quite shocking, but after a little more research, dozens and dozens have turned up in the Mojave in the last 50 years. The stories range from buried remains, to severed heads and burning corpses. Many of these victims were missing for decades before their eventual discovery. There are 155 missing people in San Bernardino county right now, it’s a safe bet that a few of them will turn up in the desert.


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