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Teen Said He Knew Friend Was Dead

The pair allegedly took a hallucinogen before one went missing, the search warrant states.

August 03, 2004|From Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — While searchers combed Joshua Tree National Park for a missing teen last month, his tearful 17-year-old friend was telling investigators he knew the boy was dead, according to a search warrant unsealed Monday.

Riverside County sheriff's deputies searched the Carlsbad home of Ben Fogelstrom on July 22. They said he was a focus of the investigation but not a suspect. Eric Sears' body was found the next day about 2 1/2 miles east of the boys' campsite.

The search warrant was based in part on Fogelstrom's statements. Authorities also sought an 8-inch knife they said Fogelstrom's father, Joseph, had removed from the scene.

Joseph Fogelstrom, who had been told to stay out of the search area, sneaked in by identifying himself as a volunteer searcher, according to the warrant. As an officer escorted him out, the father reached into Sears' pickup truck and removed a Bowie-type knife. The officer let him keep it.

A list of items taken from the Fogelstrom home during the search includes a Bowie-type knife, a white cloth with possible blood stains and several apology letters.

A message left at the home Monday evening was not returned.

The affidavit outlines what led authorities to search the home:

Sears and Fogelstrom, recent high school graduates who worked together at a restaurant, arrived July 14 at Joshua Tree. According to the affidavit, Fogelstrom said he and Sears drank a tea made from Jimson weed, a hallucinogenic drug, and that he spoke to a bush, an Indian and possibly Sears that night.

The next day, Fogelstrom turned up at a ranger's station wearing only his boxer shorts and reported Sears missing. Fogelstrom said he had no idea what became of the rest of his clothing. A search of his campsite found his shorts nearby with a bloodstain on the front.

During a polygraph exam and an interview with investigators, Fogelstrom said he couldn't recall when he last saw Sears.

Then, authorities said, he started crying. He said he recalled seeing Sears face down in a tent, according to the affidavit. Sears' skin had turned blue and he had no pulse. Fogelstrom said he carried Sears to a park toilet and placed him inside.

A short while later, Fogelstrom asked to see his mother waiting outside. He told her police had forced him to tell the story about how he put Sears' body in a toilet.

"That's not where I put him," the warrant quotes the boy as saying.

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