According to Desert Sun,
Hikers at Joshua Tree National Park on Tuesday, February 8, 2022, found human remains in the northwestern corner of the park adjacent to the Panorama Loop Trail.
According to park Superintendent David A. Smith, the remains were old and are being investigated as a homicide by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.
"I think that any unnatural death is investigated as a homicide if there is no other evidence," Smith told The Desert Sun on Wednesday, emphasizing that the park is not active in the investigation.
"They are looking at any evidence they found at the site to determine who the person is," Smith added.
High Desert radio station K107.7, KCDZ, reported that a wallet was found with the remains with the name of Bill Ewasko, a 66-year-old Georgia man who had been reported missing in June 2010. The station did not say how it learned that.
Ewasko went missing on June 24, 2010. An initial search was called off after a week. However, many further attempts to find him continued over the years.
According to a 2018 article in the New York Times, Ewasko was an avid hiker and Vietnam vet who traveled by himself from his home in suburban Atlanta to Joshua Tree and he planned to hike for several days.
On June 24, Ewasko's girlfriend, Mary Winston, became concerned when she did not hear from Ewasko after dusk. Winston reported him missing the next day. On June 26, his rental car was found at Juniper Flats trailhead. On July 5, 11 days later, the official search was called off. However, an informal group of sleuths continued to look for Ewasko over the years.
Winston, reached Wednesday night by The Desert Sun, declined to talk about Ewasko.
Tom Mahood, a retired civil engineer who previously volunteered with the Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit, published more than 80 blog posts about Ewasko’s disappearance, featuring hundreds of pictures, GPS logs and Google Earth files documenting the long-fruitless effort.
Mara Rodriguez of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said the Specialized Investigations Division recovered human remains and the investigation is ongoing.
"We have no confirmation of who the deceased is and will not be releasing any information about the identity until our Coroner's Division has completed their process and the next of kin has been notified," she said in an e-mail. "A press release will be forthcoming."
Mahood told The Desert Sun on Wednesday that he had researched the GPS tracking of the sheriff's helicopter that responded to the report of remains found on Wednesday morning. He said if the remains are confirmed to be Ewasko's, "it's a really odd area for him to have been in, and I can't fathom what he was thinking."
"I always said, he'll eventually be found in someplace no one ever thought he would be," said Mahood via email. 'Something Richard Feynman described as a 'failure of imagination.' "
Mahood added: "While we now know the conclusion, we may likely never know any details unless Bill left behind any surviving notes as to his predicament."
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