Since the beginning of June, the Town Crier has contacted the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) media information bureau every week in an attempt to receive updates about the following missing people in and around the Idyllwild area: Roy Prifogle, Lydia “Dia” Abrams, Melissa Lane and Rosario Garcia.
The community is confused by the lack of information being released by the media information bureau and wondering if their safety is at stake.
Paige Cunningham has lived in Idyllwild for four years.
“It’s hard to know that so many people have disappeared in such a short time.” Cunningham said. “It really makes you think to question your safety.”
Idyllwild resident of 20 years Louwanna McLean said, “We should be in the know of what has been happening. There are many unanswered questions. I’ve never seen anything like this since I’ve lived here.”
Because no information is being released, it leaves the community with a sense of uneasiness and wondering if RCSD is actively searching for any of the missing people.
RCSD Correctional Sgt. Deanna Pecoraro wrote in the latest email communication dated Oct. 8, “As soon as any information becomes available, we will get the information over to you. At this time, these incidents are still being looked into and these can often times take more than a week for any of the facts to change. We are still actively working diligently on these incidents.”
While it may take more than a week for any of the facts to change, the department has failed to release any new information in months.
Idyllwild resident Barb Arredondo has been left with many unanswered questions.
“I don’t think they [RCSD] are really doing much to find these people,” Arredondo expressed. “I don’t know what it is about these four that the sheriffs don’t seem to care about. How can you not release any information about four people missing for so long? What is there to hide? Who is benefiting from them missing?”
Todd Gilliland, Idyllwild local and cousin of missing person Melissa Lane, spoke to the Town Crier over the weekend about the impact this has had on his family.
“If there was more info about what the sheriff was doing to find out where these missing people are, I would at least have a sense that something was being done and wouldn’t be so harsh to judge,” Gilliland said. “The small amount of information they’ve given out to our family hasn’t helped. My aunt Kathy [Melissa Lane’s mother] wasn’t given an area on a map of where they searched, when they searched, or where or what area they are searching or doing next.”
On Sept. 10, a RCSD SUV was spotted hauling an off-road vehicle near Highway 243 and Saunders Meadow Road.
According to Hemet Sheriff Station Captain Purvis, “They were conducting follow-up searches for Melissa Lane.”
While it was unclear exactly where on the mountain deputies were searching for Lane, Purvis also confirmed that the search didn’t provide any further information or evidence of where Lane may have gone missing. That is an update RCSD could have provided.
Lane, 41, was last seen June 15, according to a poster on display in the Mountain Center area. The Town Crier spoke to Kathy Lamont, Lane’s mother, right after she was reported missing.
“She was an avid hiker, but didn’t have a destination,” Lamont explained. “She was last seen in Pine Cove. I don’t know if she’s dead or alive.”
Outside of the search for Lane, RCSD has failed to provide updates on the other three missing people. Friends, family and the community have been left in the dark.
Aside from concerns over her safety, Cunningham also expressed empathy to the families of the missing.
“I think it’s really sad that their families have no closure and the community as a whole has no idea what has happened to them,” Cunningham said. “I understand that people go missing all the time, but that doesn’t make it any less necessary for law enforcement and their affiliates do whatever they can to find them. If it were my family missing, I would try every single day to find out what happened. I would be so scared for them.”
Gilliland said Lamont has continued her own search for her daughter.
“My aunt did a check of Jane Doe’s at every hospital within a 90-mile radius and found someone that she believed might be Melissa. Kathy [Lamont] went straight there to see if it was her, but it wasn’t Melissa. She was bawling.”
Garcia was last seen July 7 wearing a brown shirt and blue jeans at the 26000 block of Katherine Street in Hemet. Garcia is a 73-year-old Hispanic female and it is possible she suffers from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. She is 5’ 3” tall and 120 pounds.
Palm Desert deputies from the RCSD were dispatched to the area of 70000 East Highway 74 in Pinyon Pines at 11:46 a.m. July 9 after Garcia’s vehicle was found unoccupied. Garcia was not located after a search of the area was conducted.
Earlier in the year, Prifogle was reported missing after going on a hike in the Pine Cove area Wednesday, March 4. He left home at about 1 p.m. and was last seen at the Pine Cove Market at 6:30 p.m. on the same day. He was last seen wearing a red backpack and jeans.
RCSD Deputy Jeremy Parsons said, “After six full days of searching in between inclement weather, searching 8 to 10 hours per day, Prifogle has not been located. The Riverside Mountain Rescue Unit (RMRU), as well as search and rescue volunteers from San Bernardino County, Orange County and San Diego County, were assisting. In total, about 150 people have been searching during those six days.” Also adding, “On the second or third day of the search, we found his backpack, but have found no other clues as to his whereabouts.”
On Sunday, June 7 at approximately 8:24 a.m., Hemet Station deputies were dispatched to the 58000 block of Bonita Vista in reference to a missing person. Abrams was placed into the system as a missing person.
Abrams is 65 years old, 5’ 5” tall, 130 pounds with blonde hair and blue eyes. She was last seen wearing a black and turquoise jacket, yellow shirt and blue jeans.
According to RMRU, their team of volunteers was dispatched to Abrams’ 160-acre ranch in the Apple Canyon area (between Mountain Center and Garner Valley) June 9. They conducted a search from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. with no success of finding Abrams.
RMRU went out again June 10 to search more difficult areas on the property including a creek bed and the hills overlooking her ranch. All assignments were completed by 6 p.m. At that point, detectives took over the investigation and called off the physical ground search.
If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Roy Prifogle, Dia Abrams, Rosario Garcia or Melissa Lane, contact the RCSD at 800-950-2444.