JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. - Over the weekend, a possible new lead in the case of two missing hikers last seen in Joshua Tree.
Exclusive to I-team reporter Karen Devine, information in an email to our I-Team tip line Saturday, leads to the discovery of sunglasses found inside Joshua Tree National Park. Glasses, that look similar to the pair worn by Joseph Orbeso in the missing poster. News Channel 3 was there when Gilbert Orbeso, the missing hiker's father was presented with the glasses by park rangers to identify them.
Surrounded by friends who have been helping Orbeso search for clues every weekend in Joshua Tree National Park, Incident Commander Dan Messaros pulled out a plastic bag with the sunglasses and handed it to Orbeso.
The father who has been looking for answers since his son and a friend Rachel Ngyuen went missing just over two months ago, has focused his time and efforts inside Joshua Tree National Park where Ngyuen's car was found on July 28, 2017.
Saturday, a tip was sent to the News Channel 3 I-team email from a hiker who said he found sunglasses weeks ago in Joshua Tree National Park. Al Mundy, an avid hiker told reporter Karen Devine, " I saw these sunglasses they were half buried at the top they were folded. "I picked them up and when I got back to the (missing persons) sign I started comparing them and I thought geez these look just like those."
Mundy told the woman at the front gate what he had found. He says, she told him to call the two numbers on the missing poster. The first number went straight to Incident Commander, Dan Messaros' voice mail. The second number also went to an answering machine that said, "sorry, mailbox full."
Mundy says, he took the glasses to his neighbor, an archeologist at the park, Dr. Jason Gerhard Theuer. According to Mundy they compared the glasses to the missing poster, and both agreed they were similar. At that point Mundy forgot about it, believing Theuer would turn them in to the appropriate person.
Devine asked Mundy if he remembered the date he handed the glasses to Theuer. He replied, "I know it was around Labor Day." News Channel 3 spoke with Dr. Jason Gerhard Theuer who said he gave the glasses to Incident Commander, Dan Messaros on September 18, 2017. Messaros confirms, on camera to KESQ that he got a call about the glasses on September 11th. He says, he had been on vacation and had no access to cell phone.
That brings us to Saturday, September 23rd and the email from Al Mundy to the I-Team tip line. Reporter Karen Devine starts making phone calls trying to find out who has the sunglasses. According to Devine, she made no less than a dozen calls to Park Service employees and Law Enforcement.
Devine left multiple messages for Incident Commander Dan Messaros. She spoke briefly to Joshua Tree National Park's Public Information Officer George Land, who was helping to find the location of the glasses. Devine was able to confirm that the second phone number on the missing person's poster was a wrong number, with the recording, "mailbox full." According to Chief Ranger Karyl Yeston, they are working to put the correct phone number up.
Devine drove up to Twentynine Palms, Sunday, to the Joshua Tree National Park Headquarters looking for anyone who might be able to answer questions about the glasses. The buildings were locked up tight, no one was around. In the meantime, Orbeso, Mundy and a crew of friends, along with KESQ photo journalist Tim Kiley were hiking to the location where the glasses were found to look for more clues.
While out searching, Orbeso got the call that Messaros had the glasses and wanted to pick a time to meet that afternooon. The crew rushed to the location.
Orbeso takes the plastic bag with the glasses from Messaros and carefully checks them out. "So these are the glasses huh?" "They look like em." News Channel 3's photo journalist, Tim Kiley records the exchange. Messaros, carefully helping Orbeso turn the glasses from side to side. Orbeso taking pictures of the glasses to send to his wife for verification.
After about 30 minutes, Orbeso asks if he can take the glasses, Messaros says, "no we need to hang on to them."
Devine spoke with Orbeso Monday morning asking if he thought the glasses belonged to his son. He told Devine that Joseph wore Armani glasses, but when he went on hikes he wore knock offs. He said, he and his wife were going to compare all the glasses he has at the house to what was found.
We've learned the Joshua Tree National Park has dedicated one Ranger Monday to look around the area where the sunglasses were found.
Members of the U.S. Marshals Service will be in Joshua Tree on Wednesday to start their own investigation into the case.
The correct tip line for Joshua Tree National Park dispatch is (909) 383-5651.
If you have information or a tip about this case email Karen Devine at email@example.com or call teh newsroom (760) 773-3333.
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