A YOUNG couple whose disappearance in the blazing summer heat of Joshua Tree National Park sparked a huge search died in a murder-suicide, authorities believe.
Two bodies discovered in a remote canyon have been identified as Rachel Nguyen, 20, and Joseph Orbeso, 22, the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department said.
But post-mortem tests found both had gunshot wounds and evidence at the scene led detectives to believe Orbeso shot Nguyen and then himself, the statement said.
It did not suggest a motive but said Orbeso's actions remained under investigation.
Searchers said they came across food wrappers, clothing and water bottles while scaling 30ft cliffs in a new search area.
The debris then led them to the nearby bodies on Sunday.
Gibert said he was overcome with a sense of relief after three months of searching for his son and his girlfriend.
"I feel like we have closure. We know we found them. That was our main goal, to find them.
"And I'm glad we did that with these great people here with me and the rest of everyone.
"I would tell Joseph that I love him very much and I hope they can rest in peace now."
Searchers said the bodies were embracing each other, KESQ reported.
Gilbert added he never gave up hope of finding the pair.
"I believed that I was going to find them. I didn't know when, but I had my answer today."
Joseph and Rachel were reported missing July 28, after they failed to check out of their accommodation near the park.
Authorities said a ping from Orbeso's cellphone had been recorded in the park the previous day. The couple's car was later found in the park.
Temperatures topped 100 degrees in late July and it was unclear whether the couple had water and supplies with them.
Authorities said the bodies would be formally identified following an autopsy.
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