- Monday August 18th, 2014 :: 01:08 p.m. PDT
***UPDATE*** The Search for Erin Corwin Concludes. Christopher Lee in Custody in Anchorage Alaska.
DATE/TIME: June 29, 2014 **UPDATE – August 18, 2014**
INCIDENT: Missing Person Investigation – Murder Investigation
LOCATION: Twentynine Palms
VICTIM: Erin Corwin, age 19 of Twentynine Palms
SUSPECT: Christopher Brandon Lee, 24, Anchorage, Alaska – In custody
During the nearly eight week extensive investigation and search, using forensics and technology, Detectives were able to identify a possible location of Erin Corwin.
The search area covered approximately 300 square miles, including the areas of Joshua Tree National Park, Twentynine Palms, Amboy, Twentynine Palms Marine Corp Base and areas covered by Bureau of Land Management. Aerial searches identified more than 100 mine shafts and numerous bodies of water that were searched by the Technical Cave and Mine Teams and Specialized Dive Teams. Nearly 5,000 volunteer hours were dedicated to this search.
On Saturday, August 16, 2014, the search teams focused on the areas of Rose of Peru Mining District, Brooklyn Mining District and Los Angeles Mining District. At approximately 4:30 p.m., using video equipment, a body was located in a mine shaft approximately 140 feet below.
On Sunday, due to the depth and air quality of the mine shaft, County Fire Urban Search and Rescue Team responded to assist in the recovery. The recovery was complete at 6:30 p.m. At 9:30 p.m. our Forensic Odontologist, made a positive identification using dental records. At 10:00 p.m. Christopher Lee was arrested in Anchorage, Alaska for the murder of Erin Corwin.
An autopsy was conducted today and the manner of death has been determined to be homicide.
The investigation is ongoing and additional information will be released as new information becomes available.
Detectives have received information regarding possible locations to be searched for potential evidence of foul play regarding the disappearance of 19-year-old Erin Corwin. The information is the result of an extensive three-week investigation.
“We are looking for a crime scene,” said Leland Boldt, the captain of the Sheriff’s Specialized Investigation Division.
Investigators from the Sheriff’s Specialized Investigation Division have spoken to numerous persons who knew Erin prior to her disappearance looking for any and all information that may lead them to Erin’s whereabouts. It is imperative investigators determine whether or not there was foul play, Sgt. Trevis Newport said. Search warrants have been executed as part of this investigation to assist investigators in determining what may have occurred.
Further information regarding the facts outlined in the search warrant will not be discussed. It is unfortunate such extensive details were released regarding this investigation because it can affect the outcome of the case. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department has a responsibility to Erin’s family, her loved ones and her unborn child to provide answers regarding her disappearance. It is essential the integrity of the investigation be maintained in order for justice to be served.
Christopher Lee was known to Erin Corwin prior to her disappearance and as a result of their contact, a search warrant was issued in the 700 block of Geronimo Trail in Yucca Valley. Investigators located a destructive device and arrested Lee for its possession, per PC18710(a). Lee was arrested for a felony charge not related to the disappearance of Erin Corwin. The case regarding the arrest for the destructive device has been completed and forwarded to the District Attorney’s office for filing.
Although suspicious circumstances have existed from the inception of this investigation there is still not enough evidence to rule out that Erin Corwin could be voluntarily missing. It is crucial all acquaintances be contacted and interviewed, in an effort to solve the case.
Investigators continue to ask anyone with information about Erin Corwin is urged to contact the Sheriff’s Specialized Investigation Division at (909) 387-3589 or Sheriff’s Dispatch at (909) 387-8313. Callers wishing to remain anonymous can contact the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or you may leave information on the We-Tip Hotline at www.wetip.com
Refer: Sergeant Trevis Newport or Detective Daniel Hanke
Station: Specialized Investigations Division – Homicide Detail
Phone No. (909) 387-3589
Case No.: 201400900
John McMahon, Sheriff-Coroner
San Bernardino County Sheriff-Coroner Department
SBSD - Headquarters
655 E 3rd St
San Bernardino, CA 92415