Southern California authorities say the deaths of a young woman and man who vanished in Joshua Tree National Park over the summer were a murder-suicide, the AP reports. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said Friday that the bodies found Sunday were identified as 20-year-old Rachel Nguyen and 22-year-old Joseph Orbeso, both of Orange County. A department statement says autopsies found both had gunshot wounds and that evidence at the scene led detectives to believe Orbeso shot Nguyen and then himself. Orbeso's actions remain under investigation. A sheriff's spokesperson tells the Los Angeles Times a gun was recovered at the scene.
The couple was reported missing July 28 when they failed to return to a bed-and-breakfast, whose owner believed they went hiking in the park where temperatures topped 100 degrees. A huge search effort failed to find them. A small team found the bodies Sunday in a steep canyon. Police said the bodies were found locked in an embrace, and Orbeso's father emailed a statement to the Southern California News Group earlier this week saying, "I want Joseph to be remembered as a kind, caring and thoughtful person. The way he was found beside Rachel holding her as they were seeking shade under the brush says everything you need to know about him as a man and as a human being. I am proud to be his father and his kindness will live on in me and those who knew him best."
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