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Discovery of Skeletal Remains in Death Valley National Park May Solve an Old Mystery

Death Valley

Photo of Death Valley by Daniel Mayer via Creative Commons.

The disappearance of four German tourists in Death Valley National Park thirteen years ago led to a massive and lengthy search, but no trace of the group was ever found. The discovery yesterday of skeletal remains in a remote area of the park may finally close the case.

In July 1996 the four Germans were on a tour of the American Southwest when they simply disappeared. They failed to return their rental vehicle in Los Angeles in late July; it was discovered in a remote canyon in Death Valley National Park in October.

The vehicle was found in Anvil Spring Canyon, in the southwestern part of the park and about six miles from the nearest good dirt road. Park spokeswoman Ann Holeso said at that time tire tracks indicated the group drove for about two miles on shredded tires and bent wheels.

An intensive ground and air search of the area where the van was found ensued, but no trace was ever found of the four people. They were identified in news reports as Cornelia Meyer, 28, her four-year-old son, Max, Egbert Rimkus, 33, and his son, Georg Weber, age ten. There was no indication of foul play.

The discovery of skeletal remains in the park yesterday may finally help close the case. The Inyo County Sheriffs Department reported that two Riverside County residents discovered the remains southeast of Goler Wash in the park.

Investigators on the scene said identifying information is being evaluated. According to Undersheriff Jim Jones, “Located close in proximity to the area where the skeletal remains were discovered was personal identification for one of the missing German tourists."

The Inyo County Sheriff’s Department, Inyo County Coroner, and National Park Service are cooperating in the investigation.

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