View Full Version : Found Deceased CA - Eric Sears, 17, Joshua Tree National Park, 15 July 2004

07-22-2004, 02:02 PM
I have not seen this posted yet, but I have heard a great deal about it from the local news.

Eric Sears, age 17 years, has been missing since last Thursday (7/15/04) while hiking in Joshua Tree National Park. He was last seen in the vicinity of Jumbo Rocks Campground.

Eric is 5'11", 150 lbs, with short cropped light brown hair.

His website is: www.ericsears.com (http://)

07-22-2004, 03:20 PM
Police now suspect foul play, according to Yesterday's LA Times. They are investigating another 17-year old, the friend who last saw him alive

07-22-2004, 03:34 PM
Family organizes own search for Carlsbad teen

By: YVETTE URREA - Staff Writer

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK ---- The parents of Eric Sears, a Carlsbad teenager who disappeared last week while hiking in this vast, rocky area, said Wednesday that they are not giving up on finding their son and are organizing their own search.

"We have a lot of hope," said Eric's mother, Wendy Sears. "Today is only day six, so if he's in a dark cool crevice, he can survive."


07-22-2004, 04:28 PM
A search warrant was served Thursday morning at the home of 17-year-old Ben Fogelstrom, that was with Eric Sears the night he went missing in Joshua Tree National Park, 10News reported.

Riverside County Sheriff's Department deputies along with Carlsbad police officials went to the home around 10 a.m.

No details on the search warrant were released. No arrests were made.

Homicide detectives from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department launched an investigation into Sears' disappearance after some park visitors gave statements that led authorities to believe foul play was involved, park spokesman Joe Zarki said. According to 10News, some campers said they heard Sears arguing with someone the night before he was reported missing.

Search crews found some of Sears' shoeprints Monday and dogs were able to pick up his scent, but the discovery led to nothing, officials said.

I also head that they found his camera with pictures on it. This was on the morning news in Los Angeles. I hope that this will give some clues to where he might be or what happened. They did not release any other information then the dates that the pictures were dated to. Maybe this is part of the reason they have decided to search his friend's house.

07-22-2004, 05:09 PM
it would not surprise me to find that the friend is involved with his disappearence. if his friend had erics scent on him that could be why the dogs lost out on the scent. seems strange that a scent trail would just stop suddenly. the people that heard the argument, was that while they were at camp? any steep bluffs around the camp site? did they have any kind of digging tools in there camp bags?

07-22-2004, 05:52 PM

:( Sources told NBC 7/39 that there are suspicions that the boys were using jimson weed while they were in the Jumbo Rocks area of the park. Jimson weed grows naturally in the desert environment and when ingested can be a highly potent hallucinogen.

In other developments, the family of the missing local teen Eric Sears announced Thursday that they are organizing their own search of Joshua Tree National Park.

The Carlsbad boy was last seen a week ago in the park. His mother, Wendy Sears, continues hoping for the best.

"We have a lot of hope," Sears, told the North County Times. "Today is only Day 6, so if he's in a dark, cool crevice, he can survive."

Friends and neighbors of Sears family are banding together to help in the search for the missing teen. Crouched on the concrete floor of a shady garage, youngsters in the neighborhood are doing what they can to help out.

"I just want to help out without going up there," said one young girl.

More than 30 neighbors like Sue Ward are taking time off their jobs to take shifts in the desert and to try and comfort the Sears family.

"The Sears and everyone in this whole neighborhood are like a family," said Ward, who just got back from the desert. "It's a big family, and we've been there to support them however we can."

On Wednesday night, the family of Eric's camping partner and friend issued a statement.

"I want to express our deepest concerns, and our hearts and prayers are with Eric at every moment," read the statement that the friend's family gave to NBC 7/39. "In our hearts, we are all praying that Eric is found safe, we want this and pray for it."

The search continued Wednesday night, and Riverside County sheriff's department officials said that was still no trace of the teen.

Another candle-light vigil was planned for outside the Sears' family home in Carlsbad on Wednesday night. Previous Stories:

07-23-2004, 12:19 AM

Cops: Missing Teen's Friend Is 'Person Of Interest'
Investigators Search Camping Partner's House

POSTED: 6:51 pm PDT July 22, 2004
UPDATED: 9:09 pm PDT July 22, 2004

SAN DIEGO -- While the best friend of a missing teen is "not a suspect," he is a "person of interest," investigators said Thursday.

Detectives from the Riverside Sheriff's Department began searching the home of a 17-year-old Carlsbad High School graduate (pictured, right) Thursday. The boy was the last person to see Eric Sears before he went missing in Joshua Tree National Park last week.

While investigators would not say what they were looking for, NBC 7/39 reported that a computer, a bedroom door and a tackle box were removed from the house.

The friend is not a suspect, but is "a person of interest," investigators said.

"Foul play is still a theory," said Sgt. Earl Quinata, of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. "But he's just one focus that we're working on. We're going through Riverside County, San Diego County, LA County; we're working on all leads at this point."

Stephanie Sears, Eric Sears' sister, said she thought the investigation was "odd."

"It was so late in the investigation but I guess they have to cover all areas," Stephanie Sears said.

Stephanie Sears also said she had a difficult time believing reports that her brother may have ingested jimson weed, a powerful, naturally-growing drug that can lead to symptoms of blindness, hallucinations, seizures and comas and cardiac arrest. She said Eric "never talked about anything like that" but that she would have expected it from his camping partner. :confused:

The family of Eric's camping partner also issued a statement Thursday, saying while the investigation was "uncomfortable," it was "nothing compared to what Sears' family was going through."

"We are fully cooperating and do not want to take anything away from the efforts to find Eric," the statement read.

07-23-2004, 05:41 PM
Body of missing hiker found in Joshua Tree National Park

JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (AP) -- A body has been found in Joshua Tree National Park, not far from where a 17-year-old boy disappeared last week.

A member of the Carlsbad fire department made the discovery this afternoon. The missing hiker, Eric Sears, is from Carlsbad. National Park ranger Cindy Von Halle ways the body was found two and one-half miles east of Jumbo Rocks.

07-23-2004, 05:44 PM

I'm sure its Eric... :(

Body Found In Joshua Tree National Park
Search Crews Find Male Body

POSTED: 2:10 pm PDT July 23, 2004
UPDATED: 2:33 pm PDT July 23, 2004

SAN DIEGO -- A body has been found in Joshua Tree National Park, not far from where a 17-year-old boy disappeared last week, 10News reported.

[b]A member of the Carlsbad fire department made the discovery around 11:30 a.m. :mad:

The missing hiker, Eric Sears, is from Carlsbad. National Park Ranger Cindy Von Halle says the body was found 2.5 miles east of Jumbo Rocks.

According to Riverside sheriff officials, the body was clothed only in boxer shorts. :(

Sears went missing July 15 while he and a friend were staying at the Jumbo Rocks campground at Joshua Tree.

Riverside County authorities believe Sears may have fallen victim to some sort of crime, as opposed to merely getting lost in the wilderness.

On Thursday, detectives investigated the home of 17-year-old Ben Fogelstrom, the friend who accompanied Sears on the outing.

About a half-dozen investigators from the Central Homicide unit of the Riverside County's Sheriff's Department spent six hours Thursday at Fogelstrom's home in Carlsbad.

Quinata said there was "probable cause" to search the Fogelstrom home based on interviews with more than 30 people during the past week. He said Fogelstrom is not a suspect.

The National Park Service reopened the Jumbo Rocks campground Thursday, which had been closed since Friday.

07-25-2004, 03:41 PM
This is an odd case. I cannot get all the facts, but it appears two teenagers went camping, one lost track of the other, and one turned up dead. There was evidence that foul play MIGHT have been involved. Tragic story for both families.

Carlsbad Youth Last seen on Thursday
Search weighs heavy on missing teen's friend
Homicide inquiry begins while search continues
Body Found
Lawyer hired for friend

07-26-2004, 08:31 PM
Investigators suspect body found is Eric Sears.


This is so tragic.

07-26-2004, 10:17 PM
I posted several links over on the Found forum, bacause he is most likely found. There wasn't another missing blond teenager in Joshua Park. ;) I didn't see this thread over here.

07-27-2004, 10:56 AM
SAN DIEGO Authorities used dental records Monday to identify a decomposed body found last week in Joshua Tree National Park as that of a missing San Diego County teen.

The Riverside County coroner's bureau determined that searchers had discovered the body of Eric Sears, 17, of Carlsbad, who was reported missing on July 15, sheriff's Cpl. Dennis Gutierrez said Monday.

From what I have heard, they said that there were no obvious signs of foul play on the body.

07-27-2004, 11:48 AM
Having read what I could on this case, it strikes me as possibly overdosing on jimson weed?

Just a thought..........

07-27-2004, 01:05 PM
Only made official identification of him yesterday - autopsy report didn't show cause of death, but no blunt trauma discovered, so thinking this was accidental, maybe drugs involved - so sad

08-03-2004, 12:39 PM
Memorial Service Held For Eric Sears


08-03-2004, 12:40 PM
I wonder if this new information will result in a murder charge-


Jeana (DP)
08-03-2004, 01:05 PM
I wonder if this new information will result in a murder charge-


It may also result in a charge against the friend's father for tampering with evidence.

What a tragedy this case is.

08-03-2004, 02:00 PM
As an officer escorted him out, the father reached into Eric's pickup and removed a Bowie-type knife, which the officer let him keep.

It boggles the mind that someone in LE would allow the father to keep the knife when it's potential evidence in an investigation.

08-03-2004, 06:41 PM
I'm not feeling comfortable with the LE version right now. I don't like the kid's version, either, but Eric was not found in a "toilet".

08-04-2004, 02:57 AM
Here's some general information on Jimson weed, the hallucinogen which Eric Sears and his friend made tea out of. This stuff used to be all over my back yard.


08-06-2004, 09:58 AM
This is the full text of the search warrant that was served on the Fogelstrom home in Carlsbad BEFORE the body was found:


08-06-2004, 12:50 PM
More info on Jimson weed.

If the friend had Jimson Weed tea, then it makes sense that he could not remember what happened, or remembers only parts of what happened. According to this article, the effects can last up to 1-2 weeks. Risks are seizures, intense visual or auditory hallucinations, or cardiac arrest.

And just my two cents, if the police officer allowed the father to take the knife, the father should not be accused of tampering. If the knife should not have left the scene, the police officer should have not let the father get in the truck, pick up the knife, or take it away.

08-06-2004, 12:54 PM
And hey, that's a good plan. If you are being forced into making a statement when you haven't been read your rights, make a false one that can be proven false.

08-09-2004, 01:34 PM

"Father Of Eric Sears' Hiking Partner Disputes Allegation
CARLSBAD, Calif. -- The father of the boy who went hiking with Carlsbad teen Eric Sears and reported him missing told NBC 7/39 that court documents recently released in the case are embellished."

More at link.

This sounds closer to the truth.

08-09-2004, 11:34 PM
Put yourself into the story, and you will get a very good idea of what occurred:



08-10-2004, 01:08 AM
Put yourself into the story, and you will get a very good idea of what occurred:


:cool:...........zCan't put myself here, unfortunately. I never had any desire to do drugs, got enough issues with sugar and caffeine. Fascinating story, though. Reminds me of some friends who, after having some 'shrooms, said they could see the grain in a wood door going 3-d. I said, "So? I can see that all the time.". Probably why I don't feel a desire to do drugs, most people think I'm on something when I'm straight.

08-12-2006, 02:16 AM
Does anybody know what ever happened here - if Folgelstrom was charged with anything or what???

Seems that San Diego media has a way of leaving mysteries unresolved (see the "woman strangled, baby hanged thread") - I can't find much info beyond the days after they found Eric's body.

08-12-2006, 08:29 AM
It looks like in 2005 authorities were saying it was more likely Eric died from the extreme heat.


And this more recent article links jimson weed to Eric's death:

08-12-2006, 05:43 PM

08-13-2006, 02:19 AM
I can't figure out why Eric's camping partner's shorts...boxers were bloody. If Eric had been looking for a place to go to the bathroom how did he end up so far away from the campground? If he wasn't looking to go to the bathroom why was he in his boxers so far away from the campground.

I wonder why LE took the door to Eric's friend's room. I can't believe how stupid LE was to give that knife to Eric's friend's father. Why did the father reach into the truck to get the knife anyway? Even if LE was looking for a missing teen at that time they didn't know if he had had an accident or if there had been foul play.

How does LE know if those boys were drinking that tea or not. It is just Eric's friend's word that they made tea. Maybe they didn't and they got into a fight the night before when they were heard arguing and the friend did something to Eric. He could have thrown him off that cliff or down that raven...where ever he was found.

What ever happened it is just such a shame. Eric seemed like a really decent kid had his life pretty much together and was looking forward to attending college. He seemed like the boy next door. He sure was a good looking boy with a beautiful smile that must have lit up any room that he walked into.