Autopsy: Missing Joshua Tree hikers died in murder-suicide

Rachel Nguyen and Joseph Orbeso are seen in this combination of undated photos provided by the National Park Service.

National Park Service via AP

JOSHUA TREE, Calif. – Authorities say that a young couple whose bodies were found earlier this week after disappearing while hiking in Joshua Tree National Park  in July, died in a murder-suicide, reports CBS Los Angeles.

On Oct. 15, the remains of 20-year-old Rachel Nguyen and her boyfriend, 22-year-old Joseph Orbeso were discovered in a steep canyon north of the Maze Loop Trailhead, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

The bodies were recovered on Oct. 16. The autopsy, coupled with evidence at the scene, determined that Orbeso shot Nguyen with a gun and then himself, SBSD said.

According to the station, the couple was last been seen on July 27. They were reported missing on July 28 when they did not check out of their Airbnb accommodations in the Morongo Basin area.

The car they were driving was found by National Park Service rangers near a trailhead on the west side of the park.

A large-scale air and ground search for the couple was conducted over several days involving about 250 law enforcement and volunteers. The search was scaled back on Aug. 6 with no sign of the couple.

The motive for the shooting remains unknown. Authorities had previously said the two bodies were found locked in an embrace.