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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.


FAULTY LAPTOP BATTERY CAUSES GARAGE FIRE IN YUCCA VALLEY

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.


BREAKING NEWS UPDATE ON CORWIN CASE

The body of Erin Corwin, reported missing from the Twentynine Palms Marine Base June 29th, was found Saturday in a 140 foot deep mineshaft, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department. Her alleged lover, Former Corporal Brandon Lee, was arrested on homicide charges in Anchorage, Alaska Sunday night. Corwin, the wife of a Marine, was last seen leaving her home in Twentynine Palms on June 28. The County Sheriff’s Department said at the time that there were suspicious circumstances surrounding her disappearance. Her body was discovered in the mine shaft Saturday afternoon at4:30. Because of poor air quality in the mine, Corwin’s body was recovered Sunday evening at 6:30 and positively identified through dental records. What investigators described as “Electronic forensic evidence” linked Brandon Lee to crime and he was arrested at 10 p.m. Sunday during a traffic stop. Investigators say Corwin’s affair with Lee started in February. The District Attorney said charges against Lee in the murder of Corwin are pending. Corwin would have celebrated her 20th birthday on July 15Corwin left her home on the Marine Corps base about 7 a.m. June 28, telling her husband she was going in to Joshua Tree National Park to scout locations to take her mother, who was coming for a visit. She has not been seen or heard from since, although her car was found two days later, about two miles from the base’s Condor gate. Search warrants were served at the home she shares with her husband, Corporal Jonathan Corwin, and that of her neighbors, Christopher and Nicole Lee.


BREAKING UPDATE...SHERIFF TO HOLD PRESS CONFERENCE TODAY ON ERIN CORWIN CASE

The alleged lover of  missing Marine wife Erin Corwin is behind bars in Anchorage, Alaska after an extensive search was conducted over the weekend for Corwin in 29 Palms. Federal Agents arrested Lee at about 10 pm last night and he is being held at the Anchorage Correctional Complex.

The charges against Christopher Lee have not yet been released. Z107.7fm will broadcast Live from the Sheriff’s Press Conference today an noon.

San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon has called a press conference at noon today in San Bernardino with an update about Erin Corwin, the pregnant Twentynine Palms woman who has been missing since June 28. Corwin left her home on the Marine Corps base about 7 a.m. June 28, telling her husband she was going in to Joshua Tree National Park to scout locations to take her mother, who was coming for a visit. She has not been seen or heard from since, although her car was found two days later, about two miles from the base’s Condor gate. Search warrants were served at the home she shares with her husband, Corporal Jonathan Corwin, and that of her neighbors, Christopher and Nicole Lee. It’s believed that Corwin and Christopher Lee were having an affair. Sheriff’s deputies and search and rescue personnel have been searching intensively for Corwin ever since she was reported missing. Z107.7 News will have an update about the news conference as soon as possible.


THREE ARRESTED IN TWENTYNINE PALMS DRUG RAID

Three Twentynine Palms residents were arrested Thursday afternoon following a drug raid on a home in the 71900 block of Sunnyslope Drive. About 3:10, deputies armed with a search warrant raided the home where they found Reah Barger, 34, Michael Pace, 51, and Jonathan Lowry, 64, along with drugs, weapons, cash, and a grenade. After an investigation, Reah Barger and Michael Pace were arrested on suspicion of being under the influence of a controlled substance, cited and released. Lowry, the owner of the home, was arrested on suspicion of operating a drug house, possession of a controlled substance, and possession of a destructive device. Jonathan Lowry was booked at the West Valley Detention Center with his bail set at $500,000. The Sheriff’s Department Bomb and Arson Squad was called in to dispose of the grenade.


WOMAN INJURED AFTER FALLING OFF HER ORV IN JOHNSON VALLEY

A woman was flown to a Palm Springs hospital Sunday morning after she fell off her off-road vehicle. According to County fire fighter Aaron Boykin, the woman was riding her ATV in the Dry Means Lake Bed when she lost control when she tried to make a turn about 7:50 a.m., and fell off. Although the unidentified woman complained of pain, she had no apparent broken bones, but was airlifted to Desert Hospital in Palm Springs as a precaution.


SMALL EARTHQUAKE RATTLES NEARBY BIG BEAR

A small earthquake has struck the Nearby Big Bear area last night, no damages or injuries were reported. The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude-3.7 quake struck at 9:55 p.m. It was centered 4 miles north of Big Bear City at a depth of about 4 miles. Hundreds of people in San Bernardino and Riverside counties reported feeling the earth move on the USGS website.


TWO ARRESTED, 11 CITED IN YUCCA VALLEY DUI/DRIVERS LICENSE CHECKPOINT

Yucca Valley Police Department Traffic Unit conducted a DUI/Drivers License checkpoint Friday at Twentynine Palms Hwy and Church Street between 6:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. Robin Osip, 36 years old residing in Indio was arrested for suspected DUI. Eric Ramos, 42, was found to have a felony warrant out of Torrance and his driver’s license was suspended. He was arrested and transported to the Morongo Basin jail. In total, 1209 Vehicles Screened, 1 DUI-Alcohol suspect was arrested, 11 Drivers were cited or arrested for operating a vehicle unlicensed or with a suspended or revoked license, and one arrested on other criminal charges.


MORONGO BASIN ITEMS IN TOMORROW’S BOARD OF SUPERVISORS AGENDA

The County Board of Supervisors meeting agenda shows consent items of Morongo Basin interest related to conservation, and a local conservationist, and to a road maintenance district. Reporter Dan Stork explains…
The seat on the Morongo Basin Municipal Advisory Council that has been vacant since early June, will be filled by the appointment of Pat Flanagan by Third District Supervisor James Ramos. That term expires in 2017.
Another item of local interest on the consent agenda of the Board of Supervisors meeting for Tuesday August 19 is the addition of more parties to a multiorganization Encroachment Protection agreement that already includes the Mojave Land Trust, the Department of the Navy, and Community Services Area 20 (Joshua Tree). Joshua Tree interest centers on the Desert View Conservation Area Park, locally known as Section 6. Continued inclusion of CSA 20 to the Agreement will allow CSA 20 to negotiate the potential sale of a conservation easement to the Navy, which will provide funds for the DVCA Park. The Navy has related preservation of habitat to the mission of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. Development of the section into a park has been hanging fire for about 50 years.
There will also be a public hearing on the formation of a road maintenance district within Wonder Valley, to be funded by a tax recently approved by voters in that area.
The meeting starts at 10 a.m., and can be participated in through the interactive conferencing facility at the County government center in Joshua Tree.


AUDITIONS TONIGHT FOR “YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN” AT THEATRE 29

Auditions for the hilarious Broadway Musical, “Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein”, will be held tonight at Theatre 29. Reporter Taylor Thacker tells you how to try out……
Don’t forget that the auditions for Theatre 29’s Young Frankenstein are tonight! The Artistic Director, Gary Daigneault, and the Music Director, Bill Barrett, will be looking for three males ages 20-30, two males ages 40-50, two males (ages indeterminate), two females in their 20s, and one female age 40-50. They will also be looking for a swing cast consisting of people with strong dance experience. Auditions for “Young Frankenstein” are at Theatre 29 at 73637 Sullivan Road in Twentynine Palms at 6:00pm. Rehearsals start August 19th. Performances will be held at Theatre 29 October 3rd through November 1. For vocals, those auditioning are asked to bring a back up CD or mp3 file on a Smartphone or mp3 player and sing Broadway tunes only. Readings will consist of cold sides from the script. For more information call 760-366-8471.


SENIOR SAFETY AND INFORMATION IN MORONGO VALLEY THURSDAY

Morongo Basin seniors are invited to the first Senior Safety and Information Expo, to be held 9 to 11 this Thursday, August 21, at Covington Park in Morongo Valley. Numerous organizations, such as the Sheriff’s Department, Highway Patrol, Hi-Desert Medical Center Reach Out Morongo Basin, CERT, and more, will be on hand with information about services and safety tips for seniors. Seniors will be able to receive tips on diet and exercise, as well as receive free blood pressure checks and give-aways. For more information, call Donna Munoz at 760-363-6454.


TWENTYNINE PALMS YOUTH CLUB TAKING AFTER SCHOOL PROGRAM APPLICATIONS

The Twentynine Palms Youth Club is taking registrations for its after-school program. The program begins August 25. Applications can be picked up at the Youth Club, 5882 Luckie Avenue, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The cost is free for students of Oasis Elementary; for all others, the cost is $100 per month. Oasis students must attend Monday through Friday from 2:45 to 5:45 and be picked up by 6 p.m. Hours for all other students are 2:30 to 6. Students will receive 1 hour of literacy class, 30 minutes of math and physical education, and help with homework. For more information, call the Youth Club at 760-367-5776.


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