Now, authorities say they believe that the couple had died in a murder-suicide, with Orbeso shooting Nguyen with a gun, then turning the firearm on himself afterward, according to a Friday release by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.
An Orange County man whose body was found alongside his girlfriend's almost three-months after they disappeared appears to have killed her and then himself in Joshua Tree National Park, authorities said Friday. The couple was found embracing each other inside "a steep canyon to the far north of the Maze Loop Trailhead", according to the sheriff's statement.
Nguyen and Orbeso, from Orange County, had been reported missing July 28 after the owner of the Airbnb where the couple was staying noticed they had not checked out. "The investigation into Orbeso's actions remains under investigation", the statement said. "Hope they can rest in peace now", Gilbert Orbeso said. Authorities did not initially release the information about the gun or gunshot wounds because the bodies still awaited autopsies and final identification, the department's statement said.
Her family said on Saturday that they do not blame him for her death and that they are grateful the pair were eventually found.
A motive for the apparent murder-suicide is not yet clear.
The vehicle, a burgundy Lexus, was discovered near the Maze Loop, in the northwest area of the park, and footprints were seen leading away from it. MORE: Bodies, believed to be SoCal hikers, found embracing one another at Joshua TreeGilbert Orbeso has been tirelessly searching through Joshua Tree National Park.
When the two were found, their bodies did appear to be interlocked, she said.
The Joshua Tree Search and Rescue team said on its Facebook page that it's easy to get lost in the vast park covering more than 1,200 square miles of the Mojave and Colorado deserts, 130 miles (209 kilometers) east of Los Angeles.
"There was nothing like a note or a phone call to explain the circumstances that we found", she added.
"You can take a short hike and lose sight of the road, and, if you didn't pay attention to what the landmarks look like, in the opposite direction, you could start wandering", a volunteer wrote.