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KESQ investigates 26-year search for missing Pinyon Pines boy

KESQ investigates the 26-year search...

PINYON PINES, Calif. - Nestled in the mountains above the Coachella Valley off of Highway 74 in Pinyon Pines lies a mystery that's lasted for more than a quarter of a century. It's the story of three-year-old Travis Zwieg, a boy who was last seen with his father at a home on Indio Avenue on March 10th, 1991.

"They had come up here to chop firewood, and Travis was sent outside to go and play with the dogs that were outside, and subsequently disappeared," Captain David Teets with the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said.

Teets said the initial search for Zweig lasted days on end, with deputies fielding numerous leads as speculation grew as to what may have happened to the little boy.
But ultimately, no answers.

"There was a possible sighting of Travis in Ventura County," Teets said. "We sent the Ventura County Sheriff's Department to go investigate this possible sighting. And they did verify that it was, in fact, not Travis."
Now 26 years later, Teets and other deputies continue to search for clues on a case that's had about half a dozen detectives at the helm.

But he said anniversaries like this are what help keep this case and others like it off the shelves, along with renewed interest by new investigators -- and updated information, including a new sketch just released, that depicts what Zwieg may look like at 29 years old, if alive today.

"They take a look at these cases, and continue to look for leads involving the case, and it has changed over this 26-year period," Teets said. "And our investigator now who has it, would like to resurrect it again. And is looking at updating our DNA evidence, obtaining DNA samples from the parents, and from other family members. So, we can update any types of advances in DNA technology that may be available to us now, or in the future."

Read: Michigan teen missing for over 1 year may be in Coachella Valley

Along with new investigators and an updated artist's rendering and DNA samples, Teets said new technologies like social media can help play a significant role in the investigation.

"Social media provides leads to us, all of the time," Teets said. "So, in this case, it would take just one person to see something that pops up on social media, or even your website, to come up with some sort of a lead for us that we can follow. That could solve this case. Or help solve this case."

When it comes to cases involving missing children, Teets and other investigators recommend parents to always collect items belonging to their child should they go missing.

"Number one, potential DNA samples, like a clipping of their hair," Teets said. "A clothing item, get their fingerprints, (and) get their footprints if you can. There are different things that people can do to help us, as a law enforcement agency, help to find their children should they go abducted or missing."
And investigators like Teets said they'll continue to work to try and find Zwieg, hoping to one day find an answer.

"We're always hopeful obviously that we'll find Travis, (but) time's going to tell," Teets said. "We're hoping that by getting this information out ot the public, and producing an updated sketch of what Travis might look like, we're hoping that will renew some public interest in this case, and that we'll get some leads that we can follow up on."

KESQ News Channel 3 tried reaching out to sheriff's deputies to try and contact any of Zwieg's family members, but were unable to.
If you have any information related to this case, you're asked to call the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's Palm Desert Station at (760) 836-1600. 

Other organizations that work towards finding missing people include the Charley Project and the DoeNetwork.


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