Citing wind conditions and logistical concerns, Inyo County Sheriff’s Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and National Park Service authorities postponed a scheduled Nov. 20 through 22 search to locate remains of three German tourists missing in Death Valley since 1996.
A Nov. 12 discovery by off-duty Riverside County Mountain Rescue Unit (RMRU) volunteers Les Walker and Tom Mahood of remains likely those of Cornelia Meyer, 27, one of four missing Germans, precipitated the official search. One hundred personnel from participating agencies had been scheduled to participate. Inyo County Sheriff's Spokesperson Carma Roper said formal identification of Meyer would be a long process and that the case is currently being handled as a criminal investigation. "But there is no evidence of foul play at this point," she said.
Meyer, her son Max, 4, her boyfriend Egbert Rimkus, 33, and his son Georg Weber, 10 disappeared in July 1996 after their vehicle became stranded in rugged country two hours’ drive southwest of Furnace Creek Visitors Center near the Panamint Mountains.
Walker said RMRU would be significantly involved when the official search takes place. Mahood, an engineer, had formulated a search theory that led him and Walker to search an area overlooked by previous missions. They discovered Meyer’s remains several miles from the boundary of the China Lake Naval Weapons Testing Area – the destination Mahood theorized the party would have walked toward to seek help. Walker and Mahood hope to find the remains of the missing three as part of the official search team.