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CALIFORNIA : Bones may solve mystery : Death Valley hikers find what may be tourists' remains.

November 14, 2009|Teresa Watanabe

A 13-year-old mystery involving the disappearance of four German tourists in the sweltering desert of Death Valley may have ended Friday, when authorities announced that bones that may be their skeletal remains had been found.

In a statement, Inyo County Undersheriff Jim Jones said that personal identification belonging to one of the tourists was found near the skeletal remains, which were discovered by two hikers Thursday in a remote area of Death Valley National Park.

The four tourists -- Cornelia Meyer, 28; her 4-year-old son, Max; Egbert Rimkus, 33; and his son, Georg Weber, 10 vanished in July 1996, when temperatures at the park reached 115 degrees. The Dresden residents had been touring the Southwest and had not been seen since signing a visitor register at the Warm Springs area at the southwestern end of the park.

Three months after disappearing, their dark green minivan, which was rented at Los Angeles International Airport, was found in Anvil Spring Canyon. All four tires were flat and tire tracks indicated that the group had driven on shredded tires and bent wheels for about two miles, authorities said then.

Only a beer can and other debris were found near the van.

Although no foul play is suspected, Inyo County sheriff's spokeswoman Carma Roper told the Associated Press that the discovery was being handled as a criminal investigation.

She added that it would take a long time to formally identify the remains and determine the cause of death.

Authorities have searched throughout the years but failed to undercover any further evidence until this week.

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teresa.watanabe@latimes.com

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