CA - Jonathan Gerrish, Ellen Chung, daughter, 1 & dog, suspicious death hiking area, Aug 2021 #5

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HannahJJJ

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I only skimmed the article, will go back later when I have time to read it more thoroughly. Ty.

Fentanyl is tasteless, odorless? And somewhere I read some weeks ago that Fentanyl can cause a muscle/rigor mortis-like reaction in some living people due to dopamine release. I wonder if this applies when the person has died? I keep going back to LE saying that JG was in a seated position...although I realize that seated when deceased can have a completely different look.

Moo. May be wrong about this...Fentanyl poisoning and muscle rigidity, including the chest wall rigidity associated with this, involves dopamine degradation more than release. Again, may be wrong about this. Moo.
 

Angleterre

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I posted previously that COD in HS is very problematic and difficult to establish as a prima facie cause. It's often established by ruling OUT ALL OTHER POSSIBLE CAUSES. MOO
I was just about to post words to this effect. And not forgetting that it was some significant time later before the bodies were found, making HS Even more difficult to diagnose COD
 

HannahJJJ

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Fentanyl is exceptionally potent. In the US it's a schedule II controlled drug, the highest category of "legal" control. The vast majority is used by anesthesiologists for surgery. To the extent it's prescribed in the US it's mostly as either fentanyl patches or nasal spray for chronic pain such as with cancer. I'd think any patches would have been easily identified at autopsy. MOO

What about oral? Powder ingested? Patches and nasal spray (and iv) would avoid first pass metabolism, but oral wouldn't. I wonder about the detection of oral in toxicology testing because of the effect of first pass on the parent drug as opposed to iv (or transdermal or nasal). Perhaps someone here knows. Moo. All Moo.
 

Pumphouse363

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i haven't read all the recent posts so someone may have already said this...if the family has any suspicion at all of foul play, i can't see that they would accept hs "after all these weeks of waiting...will be a lot less hassle and cost of a murder investigation...". if my son or daughter, my grandchild, Oski might have been murdered, even small chance, I would want not want a Single Stone left unturned.
I agree with you. Sometimes people just want to relieve their anguish by accepting the most palatable explanation. I would much prefer to be shown evidence of heatstroke being the COD due to errors of judgement than to believe my son or daughter had been murdered. My point was, it will be a lot less hassle for LE to be able to close the investigation by providing a COD, than it would be to look for evidence of foul play. MOO
 

Parsnip

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i haven't read all the recent posts so someone may have already said this...if the family has any suspicion at all of foul play, i can't see that they would accept hs "after all these weeks of waiting...will be a lot less hassle and cost of a murder investigation...". if my son or daughter, my grandchild, Oski might have been murdered, even small chance, I would want not want a Single Stone left unturned.

Agreed on all points.

Imo, I’d be single-minded in the situation with regard to seeking justice. But I suppose some might be of two minds about it.
 

RedHaus

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I wonder if it would be a worthwhile sleuthing exercise for this case to consider separating Manner of Death vs. Cause of Death.

By doing that, we end up with a set of possible paired scenarios, some of which have been eliminated by LE (e.g. suicide death by prescription drugs and accidental death by CO poisoning). The remaining Manners of Death are A) homicide, B) accidental, C) natural, and D) undetermined. Remaining Causes of Death are many but less now.
Update Mariposa Sheriff’s Office – Gerrish / Chung Investigation | Sierra News Online ||| Manner of death - Wikipedia

As we all consider heat stroke as Cause of Death, we might presume a natural Manner of Death for the family. But what if the Cause of Death was homicide? So here is a scenario in which the entire family could have died from heat stroke where they were found, but murdered by a third party. The perfect crime?

The only reason I would even entertain such a thing is because of the nearly unanimous disbelief amongst us that JG and EC would chose to be where they were found.

What if the family randomly encountered an evil doer at the trail head or along the HC trail (e.g. while exploring a mine) OR the family were lured to meet the evil doer. Possible motives of the evil doer could be a) corporate espionage (stealing trade secrets from JG), b) silence witness(es) to something bad, or c) revenge.

Under the threat of being shot to death, the family are then either forced down the SL trail or up the SL trail, depending on where they met up with evil doer. If evidence of ATV tracks, perhaps the family was taken to the foot of the SL trail and forced to climb up the trail. From there, one by one the family collapses and dies from heatstroke.

Sounds horrible and diabolical, and possibly the perfect crime, but this scenario could satisfy two sleuther camps:
A) those who only believe heatstroke as the Cause of Death and
B) those who suspect homicide as Manner of Death.
All IMO!
ETA: All IMO!
 
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Curious_in_NC

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What if the family randomly encountered an evil doer at the trail head or along the HC trail (e.g. while exploring a mine) OR the family were lured to meet the evil doer. Possible motives of the evil doer could be a) corporate espionage (stealing trade secrets from JG), b) silence witness(es) to something bad, or c) revenge.
Interesting proposal. Since they have multiple area properties, another possible motive could be an angry tenant, either through AirBNB, a squatter, or a longer term renter facing eviction.
 

WillieMac

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I wonder if it would be a worthwhile sleuthing exercise for this case to consider separating Manner of Death vs. Cause of Death.

By doing that, we end up with a set of possible paired scenarios, some of which have been eliminated by LE (e.g. suicide death by prescription drugs and accidental death by CO poisoning). The remaining Manners of Death are A) homicide, B) accidental, C) natural, and D) undetermined. Remaining Causes of Death are many but less now.
Update Mariposa Sheriff’s Office – Gerrish / Chung Investigation | Sierra News Online ||| Manner of death - Wikipedia

As we all consider heat stroke as Cause of Death, we might presume a natural Manner of Death for the family. But what if the Cause of Death was homicide? So here is a scenario in which the entire family could have died from heat stroke where they were found, but murdered by a third party. The perfect crime?

The only reason I would even entertain such a thing is because of the nearly unanimous disbelief amongst us that JG and EC would chose to be where they were found.

What if the family randomly encountered an evil doer at the trail head or along the HC trail (e.g. while exploring a mine) OR the family were lured to meet the evil doer. Possible motives of the evil doer could be a) corporate espionage (stealing trade secrets from JG), b) silence witness(es) to something bad, or c) revenge.

Under the threat of being shot to death, the family are then either forced down the SL trail or up the SL trail, depending on where they met up with evil doer. If evidence of ATV tracks, perhaps the family was taken to the foot of the SL trail and forced to climb up the trail. From there, one by one the family collapses and dies from heatstroke.

Sounds horrible and diabolical, and possibly the perfect crime, but this scenario could satisfy two sleuther camps:
A) those who only believe heatstroke as the Cause of Death and
B) those who suspect homicide as Manner of Death.
All IMO!
ETA: All IMO!
We may need to create a poll to actually establish whether there is a "nearly unanimous disbelief amongst us" here. I'm not sure it's anywhere as "nearly unanimous" as some may think. A vocal minority may be louder than the silent majority, but it doesn't mean they actually outnumber them.
 

Pumphouse363

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I wonder if it would be a worthwhile sleuthing exercise for this case to consider separating Manner of Death vs. Cause of Death.

By doing that, we end up with a set of possible paired scenarios, some of which have been eliminated by LE (e.g. suicide death by prescription drugs and accidental death by CO poisoning). The remaining Manners of Death are A) homicide, B) accidental, C) natural, and D) undetermined. Remaining Causes of Death are many but less now.
Update Mariposa Sheriff’s Office – Gerrish / Chung Investigation | Sierra News Online ||| Manner of death - Wikipedia

As we all consider heat stroke as Cause of Death, we might presume a natural Manner of Death for the family. But what if the Cause of Death was homicide? So here is a scenario in which the entire
From the timeline:
8/20/2021 – Search warrants issued for family home and cars- nothing significant located
And of course they wouldn't need a search warrant to search the death scene. It seems improbable to me that drugs were involved, and the idea that drugs killed them just as they got to the steepest and hottest part of their hike- wildly improbable. Occam's Razor cuts thru the drug hypothesis like a hot knife thru butter. Zero evidence for it, while the evidence for heat stroke is overwhelming.
From the timeline:
8/20/2021 – Search warrants issued for family home and cars- nothing significant located
And of course they wouldn't need a search warrant to search the death scene. It seems improbable to me that drugs were involved, and the idea that drugs killed them just as they got to the steepest and hottest part of their hike- wildly improbable. Occam's Razor cuts thru the drug hypothesis like a hot knife thru butter. Zero evidence for it, while the evidence for heat stroke is overwhelming.
But did they search ALL the properties?
 

Lex Parsimoniae

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We may need to create a poll to actually establish whether there is a "nearly unanimous disbelief amongst us" here. I'm not sure it's anywhere as "nearly unanimous" as some may think. A vocal minority may be louder than the silent majority, but it doesn't mean they actually outnumber them.
I'm not clear what he means by "nearly unanimous disbelief amongst us that JG and EC would chose to be where they were found." If he means do I think they did NOT INTEND to do a loop hike that day that finished with a climb up the SLT to their truck, then NO, I do believe they intended to do that hike but did not realize the danger. I do disbelieve any notion that they chose to end up dying on that trail, or that anyone would conceive of trying to kill them in that manner. Locally, we had a family of four swept off the beach by a sneaker wave. Did they choose to be there? Sure, but they didn't intend for that tragedy to occur. Just as in this case, they didn't realize how dangerous it was until it was too late. MOO
 

Pumphouse363

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I'm not clear what he means by "nearly unanimous disbelief amongst us that JG and EC would chose to be where they were found." If he means do I think they did NOT INTEND to do a loop hike that day that finished with a climb up the SLT to their truck, then NO, I do believe they intended to do that hike but did not realize the danger. I do disbelieve any notion that they chose to end up dying on that trail, or that anyone would conceive of trying to kill them in that manner. Locally, we had a family of four swept off the beach by a sneaker wave. Did they choose to be there? Sure, but they didn't intend for that tragedy to occur. Just as in this case, they didn't realize how dangerous it was until it was too late. MOO
With all due respect to your opinion I don’t think a day trip to the beach is comparable to a hike with a dog and a baby under the conditions of that day.
 

WillieMac

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I'm not clear what he means by "nearly unanimous disbelief amongst us that JG and EC would chose to be where they were found." If he means do I think they did NOT INTEND to do a loop hike that day that finished with a climb up the SLT to their truck, then NO, I do believe they intended to do that hike but did not realize the danger. I do disbelieve any notion that they chose to end up dying on that trail, or that anyone would conceive of trying to kill them in that manner. Locally, we had a family of four swept off the beach by a sneaker wave. Did they choose to be there? Sure, but they didn't intend for that tragedy to occur. Just as in this case, they didn't realize how dangerous it was until it was too late. MOO
Agreed. I don't think this family *chose* to die anywhere that day - or planned to on any other given day for that matter. But I also don't believe that there was any complicated devious scheme at hand where some dastardly mastermind forced them out there against their will where some newly concocted weaponized untraceable aerosol toxin could be used against them. Possible? Sure. Probably? No. And I'm guessing that I'm not the only one that feels that way but who doesn't feel like debating every single post that's made here supporting such a theory. So I'm just saying that there may be many people still following this thread that are simply waiting to hear what further results LE eventually comes out. I won't assume that I'm correct on that though either. ...but I believe it's possible. (At least as possible as some of the other theories I've been reading here on these last few pages.)

Sorry for the interruption. I'll go back to lurker mode now and await the autopsy results & more info from LE. As you were.
 

Yvettea

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In the argument for death by heat stroke the thing that is ignored is the increasing and dramatic temperatures at the bottom of the Hites Cove trail where they split off to hike 2 miles along the Merced river at those elevated temperatures. The only hope of avoiding the temperatures, which were well above average possibly 103°-107°, was to turn around and hike back up Hites Cove. Still we are expected to believe experienced hikers continued to hike in those temperatures 3 1/2 to 4 miles to their death.

The river was there but they didn’t stay where they could cool their bodies avoiding heat exhaustion and HS and hiking closer to sunset. Instead, probably already experiencing difficulties from the heat, they started up a barren, fully exposed 3 mile hike along a steep and probably narrow trail where full attention to the trail would be needed to avoid stumbling off along the switchbacks. And they hiked only forward until they collapsed on the trail.

Along the SLT they were essentially climbing the side of a mountain. Were they accustomed to hiking these conditions? You can probably identify the difficulty I have with the simple HS argument.
 
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I wonder if it would be a worthwhile sleuthing exercise for this case to consider separating Manner of Death vs. Cause of Death.

By doing that, we end up with a set of possible paired scenarios, some of which have been eliminated by LE (e.g. suicide death by prescription drugs and accidental death by CO poisoning). The remaining Manners of Death are A) homicide, B) accidental, C) natural, and D) undetermined. Remaining Causes of Death are many but less now.
Update Mariposa Sheriff’s Office – Gerrish / Chung Investigation | Sierra News Online ||| Manner of death - Wikipedia

As we all consider heat stroke as Cause of Death, we might presume a natural Manner of Death for the family. But what if the Cause of Death was homicide? So here is a scenario in which the entire family could have died from heat stroke where they were found, but murdered by a third party. The perfect crime?

The only reason I would even entertain such a thing is because of the nearly unanimous disbelief amongst us that JG and EC would chose to be where they were found.

What if the family randomly encountered an evil doer at the trail head or along the HC trail (e.g. while exploring a mine) OR the family were lured to meet the evil doer. Possible motives of the evil doer could be a) corporate espionage (stealing trade secrets from JG), b) silence witness(es) to something bad, or c) revenge.

Under the threat of being shot to death, the family are then either forced down the SL trail or up the SL trail, depending on where they met up with evil doer. If evidence of ATV tracks, perhaps the family was taken to the foot of the SL trail and forced to climb up the trail. From there, one by one the family collapses and dies from heatstroke.

Sounds horrible and diabolical, and possibly the perfect crime, but this scenario could satisfy two sleuther camps:
A) those who only believe heatstroke as the Cause of Death and
B) those who suspect homicide as Manner of Death.
All IMO!
ETA: All IMO!
While I don't agree with the scenario presented, I do think & have always thought this is a two factor death scene.

Cause of death and manner of death of the adults will involve something that disabled them then the excessive heat complicating their ability to respond or escape IMO.

Sadly, I think their daughter and dog most likely died from heat stroke because the adults were incapacitated.

I am now leaning toward food or water poisoning of the adults. Just a hunch based on how far they got back toward their car and how hard Ellen must have pushed herself to keep going when time was running out.

The arduous and exposed switchback environment complicated their situation greatly, I believe. And having no cell service or other communication means sealed their fate, I think. I don't judge their choices that day because accidents can complicate any situation. And nature can be very unforgiving when that happens.

Such a tragedy no matter the cause or manner of death.

MOO
 

wary

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I'm not clear what he means by "nearly unanimous disbelief amongst us that JG and EC would chose to be where they were found." If he means do I think they did NOT INTEND to do a loop hike that day that finished with a climb up the SLT to their truck, then NO, I do believe they intended to do that hike but did not realize the danger. I do disbelieve any notion that they chose to end up dying on that trail, or that anyone would conceive of trying to kill them in that manner. Locally, we had a family of four swept off the beach by a sneaker wave. Did they choose to be there? Sure, but they didn't intend for that tragedy to occur. Just as in this case, they didn't realize how dangerous it was until it was too late. MOO

I agree. I think it’s extremely likely that they chose to hike that trail.

I don’t know whether they underestimated the danger, or whether things went wrong in a way that disrupted their plans. We’ve had people on this thread explaining a multitude of ways that things could have gone wrong.

By the way, I think that LE’s waiting time before announcing their final assessment is evidence that they’re not taking the easy way out, of just choosing heat stroke because it’s the simple and obvious answer.

MOO
 
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Yvettea

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The delay in announcing cause of death sometimes is affected by LE’s inability to eliminate foul play. I thought foul play had already been eliminated but I could be wrong.
 

Lexiintoronto

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With all due respect to your opinion I don’t think a day trip to the beach is comparable to a hike with a dog and a baby under the conditions of that day.

It’s comparable in terms of venturing to a dangerous area without fully either calculating or appreciating the risks or conditions, imo.
 

Lex Parsimoniae

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With all due respect to your opinion I don’t think a day trip to the beach is comparable to a hike with a dog and a baby under the conditions of that day.
There are signs at the beach warning you about the dangers, and if you look at the photo in that article, at a glance you can see how rough the surf is before you venture onto the beach. So yes, I agree it's not comparable to a hike with no signs warning of the danger of hiking there in the summer, and no indication of the extreme conditions they would face on the way back up.
 
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