The bodies of a couple embracing each other discovered at Joshua Tree National Park likely died in a “sympathetic murder-suicide” while they were lost amid the desert’s boiling heat.
Rachel Nguyen, 20, and Joseph Orbeso, 22, had been missing for nearly three months after going for a hike in late July.
Crews spent more than 2,100 hours scouring the rugged terrain before finding their bodies in a canyon Oct. 15.
Autopsies found both had gunshot wounds and evidence at the scene led detectives to believe Orbeso shot Nguyen and then himself, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said in a statement Friday.
The bodies were under a tree, with clothing covering their legs to protect them from the sun. They appeared to have been rationing food and had no water.
"We hold no grudges against Joseph or the Orbeso family," Nguyen’s family members said in a statement. "We thank God that we'll be able to give Rachel a proper burial and lay her to rest."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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