Over the weekend, the Idyllwild Town Crier reached out to the media information bureau of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) to ask why it took until Feb. 5 to retrieve Rosario Garcia.
Skeletal remains were brought to the attention of the RCSD Jan. 25 by the Fowler-O’Sullivan Foundation. Western States Aerial Search, who was working with the foundation, spent hours collecting photos of the area between Jan. 22 and 24.
While RCSD was notified immediately once the skeletal remains were identified in the photos, nothing was done until Feb. 5.
Sgt. Deanna Pecoraro of the media information bureau responded by email Monday morning writing, “On Jan. 25, it was snowing heavily and the conditions were dangerous. When we were advised of possible human remains in the area, we were only given photographs and coordinates.”
Pecoraro continued, “We waited for the conditions to get better and needed the snow to melt not only for safety but to assure we could identify and recover all of the remains.”
The RCSD released the following Thursday, Feb. 18: “On Friday, Feb. 5, 2021, personnel from RMRU, Riverside County Search Dogs, Riverside County Coroner’s Bureau, Riverside County Forensics, Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team and personnel from the Hemet Station responded to the Mountain Center area and conducted a search in an area where information was received that possible human remains had been seen.
Human remains consistent with an adult female were located in the area as well as items belonging to Rosario Garcia. Our Coroner’s Bureau was able to obtain a positive identification that the remains belonged to Rosario Garcia. There is no evidence of foul play.”
Garcia’s family has now been able to work on finding closure, but the searching continues for the four other families.
Kendra Johnson recently posted topographic maps of the general area on her Facebook page of where her father, Roy Prifogle, went missing and where his backpack was found a year ago.
Other than the response regarding Garcia, the media information bureau did not respond to an email requesting updates on the four remaining missing persons.
Four people remain missing
Eight people have gone missing in the area since March of last year and four remain missing.
On Sept. 10, an RCSD SUV was spotted hauling an off-road vehicle near Highway 243 and Saunders Meadow Road.
According to Hemet Sheriff Station Capt. Leonard 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.
Lane, 41, was last seen June 15, according to a poster that was displayed 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 said. “She was last seen in Pine Cove. I don’t know if she’s dead or alive.”
Outside of the search for Lane, the community has not received any updates on the other three missing people. Friends, family and the community have been left in the dark.
Prifogle was reported missing after going on a hike in the Pine Cove area Wednesday, March 4, 2020. He left home at about 1 p.m. and was last seen at the Pine Cove Market at 6:30 p.m. 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. Lydia “Dia” 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.
On June 6, Lydia “Dia” Abrams was last seen by her self-proclaimed live-in boyfriend Keith Harper at her ranch in Apple Canyon (between Mountain Center and Garner Valley). Since the initial search efforts eight months ago, the RCSD has not provided new information or updates regarding her disappearance despite weekly inquiries from the Town Crier.
David Gotfredson, investigative producer from News 8 out of San Diego, has also been following the case since the beginning. In a recent broadcast Gotfredson reported that News 8 and drone pilot Steve Jensen made their way out to Grand Wash Cliffs in Arizona to do some searching of their own.
Gotfredson and Jensen spent multiple hours over a two-day period searching the cliffs and surrounding area for remains or clothing that match what Abrams was last reported wearing. Unfortunately, they didn’t find anything.
According to Gotfredson’s story, Harper was in the Grand Wash Cliffs area a few weeks before Abrams went missing. He owns about 85 acres of land.
While Harper lived with Abrams at her ranch, two days after she went missing, Harper left the state, driving through Arizona to get to New Mexico.
Gotfredson reported that the San Juan County Sheriff in New Mexico obtained a search warrant and deputies impounded the RV Harper drove to New Mexico taking evidence from inside. However, the RCSD has not provided any persons of interest or suspects regarding Abrams or any of the other missing people.
According to RMRU, their team of volunteers was dispatched to Abrams’ 160-acre ranch in the Apple Canyon area 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.
The most recent woman to go missing from the Hemet/San Jacinto area is 27-year-old Diana Perez Gonzalez who was reported missing Dec. 11. According to family, Gonzalez visited the Idyllwild area regularly. She was last seen by her boyfriend.
Christy Rojas, Gonzalez’s sister, and her family are struggling with her sister missing.
Rojas said, “We’ve been terribly sad. We think about her every day and have dreams of her, waiting for any sign or a miracle because we miss her and love her a lot. But the most important, her baby needs her. We can see the sadness in her eyes. Although she can’t speak, we know she misses her mom.” Gonzalez is also pregnant.
If you have any information regarding the whereabouts of Roy Prifogle, Lydia “Dia” Abrams, Diana Perez Gonzalez or Melissa Lane, contact the RCSD at 800-950-2444.