Gabby Petito case draws renewed attention to Lauren Cho and others who have gone missing

·Senior Writer
·3-min read

The widespread national media attention over the killing of 22-year-old Gabby Petito has led to renewed interest in other missing person cases that have received far less coverage.

Among them is that of Lauren Cho, a 30-year-old Asian American woman from New Jersey who was last seen on June 28 in a remote area of the California desert.

Cho had been living with her friend and former partner, Cody Orell, in his converted bus in Morongo Valley, Calif., according to authorities.

Orell told police that Cho got upset and walked away from their bus without her phone, water or food. When Orell and his friends couldn’t find her, they called to report her missing.

Authorities searched the area for a week using aircraft and canines, but found no trace of Cho.

Lauren Cho
Lauren Cho. (San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department)

According to the Hi-Desert Star newspaper, she had been working as a private chef for a friend's Airbnb in Yucca Valley.

Orell told the paper that Cho went to meet someone the day before her disappearance, and believes that she may have been picked up by that person.

“On Sunday, she was going out to meet someone and wasn’t saying who,” Orell said. “I didn’t pry into it then, but of course now I wish [I did].”

Earlier this week, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Office announced that its specialized investigations division would be assisting local deputies in the search for Cho.

The renewed interest in Cho’s disappearance comes amid wall-to-wall national media coverage of the Petito case — as well as criticism of news outlets for not covering similar cases involving people of color.

A viral tweet posted after Petito’s body was found Sunday urged Twitter users to learn about Daniel Robinson, a 24-year-old Black geologist who went missing in the desert near Buckeye, Ariz., in June.

Robinson’s jeep was found in a ravine about four miles from where he was last seen.

Robinson’s father hired a private investigator and launched a Change.org petition in an effort “to make sure this case is taken seriously” by the Buckeye Police Department.

Late last week, police released a statement saying they had used ATVs, helicopters, drones and cadaver dogs as they searched more than 70 square miles for Robinson.

“Buckeye Police continue to analyze evidence and explore leads,” the statement reads. “Anyone with information that can help solve this case and bring closure to the Robinson family is urged to call the Buckeye Police Department.”

Petito, whose body was found near the Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming on Sunday, was reported missing by her parents earlier this month, shortly after her 23-year-old fiancé, Brian Laundrie, returned home from a cross-country road trip without her.

Petito and Laundrie had spent months visiting national parks in their converted 2012 Ford Transit van, documenting the trip on YouTube and Instagram.

Laundrie was last seen on Sept. 14. His parents reported him missing three days later.

Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie. (via Facebook)
Gabby Petito and Brian Laundrie. (via Facebook)

A federal arrest warrant was issued for Laundrie on Thursday for unauthorized use of a device and bank accounts without permission.

Laundrie has not been charged in Petito's homicide but has been named a person of interest.

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