As the evidence is analyzed, it appears the searchers may once again head into the field to look for additional remains that appear to belong to the four German tourists who went missing in Death Valley in 1996.
Two adults and two children had been missing for 13 years until searchers brought in bones after multiple search efforts that started in November. Inyo Sheriff Detective Jeff Hollowell says that the bones found so far indicate that only the two adults have been found.
In July of 1996, 34-year-old Egbert Rimkus, his 10-year-old son Georg Weber, his girl friend Cornelia Meyer and her 4-year-old son Max traveled to Death Valley.Their rental car was found months later on a closed road in Anvil Spring Canyon. Despite a large search at the time and periodic searches over the years, the whereabouts of the missing group remained unknown until 2009.
In November, two Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit team members who had researched the case, found human remains and photo identification belonging to the missing woman in a remote wash between Goler Wash in the Panamint Mountains and the China Lake Naval Weapons Station.
Since then, Inyo County has organized multiple searches of the remote area including a large multi-agency search in December. Each search effort has turned up additional evidence that has been analyzed in past weeks.
Detective Hollowell explained that so far it appears that the skeletal remains recovered belong to an adult female and an adult male. The whereabouts of the children are unknown at this time and will require searchers to return to the remote wash where the adult remains were found.
The sole of a small shoe was found along with the remains, but Hollowell says that its currently unclear if the shoe belongs to the adult female or the ten year old boy.
The concern is that the children may have died before the adults and were buried by the adults somewhere out in the desert. Its also possible that the bones have been buried by pack rats. Some of the remains found so far have been inside rats nests, so searchers have dug into nests to find more bones.
Besides another trip to the desert, the Inyo Sheriffs Department has contacted Interpol for help in obtaining DNA from relatives to help reach a positive identification on the remains found.
The Inyo County Sheriffs Department continues to actively investigate this international case. After 13 years of not knowing, the hope, according to Hollowell, is that the searches will, put some ease to the families in Germany.