SCIENCE AND HARD WORK: HOW THE BODY OF ERIN CORWIN WAS FOUND

Locating of the body of pregnant Marine Wife Erin Corwin—missing for seven weeks—and the arrest of a suspect, boyfriend Christopher Lee, came about as the result of a remarkable job by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. Managing Editor Tami Roleff said the conclusion of this phase of the Corwin saga was the result of hard work and science…

Erin Corwin 3

The body of Erin Corwin, the pregnant 19-year-old Twentynine Palms Marine wife who has been missing since June 28, has been found. Sheriff John McMahon said at a press conference yesterday that detectives and hundreds of search-and-rescue personnel, including searchers who specialize in searching mines, spent more than 5,000 hours searching 300 square miles in the Brooklyn Mining District, Los Angeles Mining District, and Rose of Peru Mining District, east of Twentynine Palms.
“More than 100 mine shafts were identified and numerous bodies of water were located and searched. On Saturday, August 16, the search concluded with the discovery of Erin Corwin’s body in a 140-foot mine shaft.”

Sheriff's photo of the area where Erin Corwin's body was found.

Sheriff’s photo of the area where Erin Corwin’s body was found.

Homicide detective Sergeant Trevis Newport explains how the search-and-rescue personnel narrowed down the area to search. “We did forensics examinations of some computer technology, some cell phones, and many other electronic devices, and through those forensic exams we were able to determine a potential location for Erin Corwin’s body.”

Newport said the area where her body was found was very rough terrain. “It is not a very easily accessible area…. One would have a difficult time even in a 4-wheel-drive vehicle. It’s a very dangerous area. There are lots of mine pits out there, and it’s very remote.”

He then described how they found her body. “One of our mining teams sent a camera down into a particular shaft, approximately 140 feet down, and we were able to locate Erin—what we believed at the time was a female corpse. Due to the air quality, we were unable to extract the remains from the bottom of the mine shaft on that day.”

County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig discussed the rescue operation on Sunday afternoon. “The rescue operation was about two hours. We made two entries. The first entry was to collect evidence. The second rescue was to then extract the body of Ms. Corwin.”

The remains were positively identified through dental records just three hours after the recovery as being Erin Corwin, and shortly afterward, her former neighbor and alleged lover, Christopher Lee, a Marine who was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in July, was arrested in Alaska for homicide.

Photo of suspect Christopher Lee.

Photo of suspect Christopher Lee.

Depending on whether Lee fights extradition, he could return to California in just a few days or up to four to five weeks. Earlier today, District Attorney Michael Ramos announced Christopher Lee will be charged with murder with special circumstances of lying in wait, which could mean, if Lee is convicted, the death penalty.

QUICK FIRE ATTACK ON A GARAGE SAVES A YUCCA VALLEY HOME

A quick attack on a garage fire Sunday saved a Yucca Valley home. County Fire Captain Rick Denison said firefighters responded to a residential structure fire in the 58500 block of San Andreas Road in Yucca Valley shortly after 4:00 p.m. Arriving units found heavy smoke and fire showing from a one-car attached garage. Denison said the residents did the right thing by closing the outside and garage doors to keep the fire from spreading and safely got out of the house.

San Andreas garage fire 1       San Andreas garage fire 2

Firefighters began an aggressive fire attack on the garage to prevent the spread of the fire to the single story home. A 2009 VW Jetta inside the garage was completely destroyed in the fire. Denison said preliminary investigation indicates the fire started inside the car, possibly due to a laptop computer that was plugged into an electrical converter that was plugged into the car. Denison said the computer’s lithium ion battery exploded, and warned residents that keeping electronic devices plugged in continuously can generate heat that could cause a fire. Denison estimated the damage at about $25,000; 13 fire personnel, three fire engines, two firefighter paramedic ambulances, and an investigator, were assigned to the incident. No injuries to civilians or firefighters were reported. Courtesy photos can be located at www.sbcfire.org under latest news.

LAST MINUTE SCHOOL ADMINISTRATION POSITION FILLED

The Morongo Unified School District Board of Education holds its last meeting before the start of the school year on August 19. Reporter Dan Stork says the action agenda features the filling of a high-level administrative slot…
Following a 6:30 p.m. closed meeting to consider personnel and pupil issues, the Morongo Unified School District Board of Education will ratify the 2014 graduates of the three District high schools as the first item on the action agenda at its 7 p.m. open session on August 19. Following that is approval of the consolidated application for categorical funding from the state, and of a contract for Deborah Turner as Interim Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services. Next, the Board will acknowledge projects placed on the “Applications Received Beyond Bond Authority List.” The long-running $6 million+ construction projects at Twentynine Palms High School will see a notice of completion and two unusual change orders: a $75,000 reduction, and a 70-day no-cost extension. Finally, a U.S. history book will be considered for further review. The Board meets at Joshua Tree Elementary School.

HARRISON HOUSE TO HOST SINGER VICTORIA WILLIAMS SATURDAY

Victoria Williams, a songwriter and singer who has performed with national acts, will give a solo concert at Harrison House in Joshua Tree Saturday, August 23. Williams, a musician, singer, and songwriter who is noted for her distinctive high vibrato voice, evokes flavors of country, folk, rock, gospel and jazz. She has recorded 14 albums and has sung alongside Lou Reed, Emmy Lou Harris, Neal Young, and John Prine. Tickets to the 8 p.m. performance are $15 and are available at Joshua Tree Health Foods, in downtown Joshua Tree. Harrison House is located at 6881 Mount Lassen Avenue. For more information, call 760-366-4712.

BLOOD DRIVE TOMORROW AT HI-DESERT MEDICAL CENTER

A blood drive will be held tomorrow at Hi-Desert Medical Center in Joshua Tree. Reporter Cara Conway urges you to give the gift of life…
Desert Blood Services is hosting a blood drive Wednesday, August 20 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hi-Desert Medical Center, 6601 White Feather Road, Joshua Tree. Donors must be free of illness, weigh at least 110 pounds, and not be at risk for AIDS or hepatitis. Incentives are offered as well as a complimentary cholesterol screening and mini-physical. Blood donation takes about an hour. For more information call 760-777-8844.

FREE SIX-WEEK MATURE DRIVING CLASS STARTS TOMORROW IN TWENTYNINE PALMS

The Twentynine Palms Library will offer a free six-week mature driver education class beginning tomorrow, Wednesday August 20. This six-week continuous class will cover information needed to pass the DMV written exam. Seniors can join the class at any time from August 20 through September 24; no pre-registration is necessary. The classes are on Wednesdays at 2 p.m. Both the California Driver Handbook and sections of the Senior Guide to Safe Driving Handbook are reviewed. In each class, participants are given sample written driver tests and the answers are discussed with references made to their location in the handbook. If you have any questions contact the Twentynine Palms Library at 760-367-9519.

TWENTYNINE PALMS PLANNING COMMISSION LOOKS AT VACATION HOME RENTALS AND SIGN CODES

The Twentynine Palms Planning Commission deals with vacation home rentals and the municipal sign code. Dan Stork has the full agenda…
At its August 19 meeting, the Twentynine Palms Planning Commission will plan its next step on vacation home rentals. The published agenda refers to a future agenda item with the description “Future continued Planning Commission discussion and direction on the preparation of an amendment” on the subject. The rest of the meeting will be a workshop on the city’s sign code, as part of the overall review and revision of the Development Code—number 40 in the series. The meeting will start at 6 pm at City Hall on Adobe Road.

PRE-SCHOOL STORYTIME STARTS THURSDAY AT THE 29 PALMS LIBRARY

Pre-school story time at the Twentynine Palms Library is beginning again. Three-, four-, and five-year olds are invited to attend. Programs are held on Thursdays at 11:00 a.m. starting August 21and will run through September 25 at the Twentynine Palms Library. A different letter of the alphabet will be featured each week. During story time this Thursday, children will be introduced to the alphabet through stories, songs and a craft. The following Thursday, children are invited to bring something from home for show and tell that begins with the featured letter. The program will include age-appropriate storytelling, apron stories, fingerplays, songs, and other activities to promote a love of books, reading, and language. For more information about pre-school story time, please call the Twentynine Palms Library at 760-367-9519.

TWENTYNINE PALMS HIGH SCHOOL CHEERLEADERS LOOKING FOR SPONSORSHIPS

The Twentynine Palms High School Cheerleading squad is looking for your help. Reporter Taylor Thacker says the squad is looking for sponsors…
The Twentynine Palms High School cheerleaders are beginning to prepare for the upcoming 2014-2015 season. Their goal this year is to receive sponsors in order for their program to grow and succeed. All money collected from sponsors will be used for warm-ups for all cheerleaders, bags, transportation to away games, team banquets, end of the year awards, and competitions. Business sponsors will have their name put on the cheerleaders’ banner at football and basketball games. If you want to be a sponsor of the TPHS Cheerleading program, pick up a cheerleading sponsorship form at Twentynine Palms High School and return to the cheer coach, Tresa Oden. For more information call 760-559-9820.

RAFFLE TO BENEFIT DESERT CHRIST PARK IN YUCCA VALLEY

The Desert Christ Park Foundation is holding a raffle to raise money for the park in Yucca Valley. A matted, framed, and signed black-and-white photo of one of the statues in the park, “Suffer the Children,” by photographer Phil Dunham will be won in a raffle drawing, set for November 2. Tickets are $1 each, or 6 for $5. To purchase tickets, call 760-365-3984. Desert Christ Park is located at 56200 Sunnyslope Drive in Yucca Valley.