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3 Bodies Found Near Reservation; May Be Cousins Missing 2 Weeks

July 23, 1998| From Associated Press

CABAZON, Calif. — Three decomposed bodies found off a remote trail on the Morongo Indian Reservation may be three cousins missing since a shopping excursion two weeks ago, authorities said Wednesday.

The bodies of two women and a man were found by deer hunters 10 miles north of Cabazon at the 4,000-foot level near Millard Canyon Road and Kitchen Creek Trail, said Sgt. Mark Lohman of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. The rugged area is 90 miles east of Los Angeles.

"We believe it could be the three missing people out of the Indio area," Lohman said. All of the victims were dressed and the bodies were decomposed. The sergeant wouldn't speculate on how long the victims had been dead.

Erika De La Rosa, 25, Tannia Salazar, 22, and Leopoldo Lopez, 20, cousins from Indio, were last seen July 9 at the Desert Hills Factory Outlet in Cabazon. Salazar's 1991 teal Honda Accord was found a day later at the Inland Center Mall in San Bernardino.

The body of an adult female was found about 7:15 p.m. Tuesday by two hunters scouting the area, the sergeant said. The body was off the side of the road in a steep, brushy area.

The investigation was halted due to darkness and the remoteness of the site, he said.

"We went out this morning and found two more bodies," Lohman said.

Homicide investigators were still gathering evidence Wednesday afternoon. The causes of death were not disclosed.

"We have a very extensive crime scene. It's going to take us hours to get through it and hopefully we are going to find the evidence that will lead us to the person or persons responsible for this," Lohman said.

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