Remains found in search of Westminster alumna

By Shaun Chornobroff

The search for a missing Westminster Choir College alumna, Lauren Cho, that gained significant traction on social media and in the news in recent weeks has likely come to an end, as human remains were found in California not far from where she was last seen.

During an Oct. 9 search and rescue operation for Cho, 30, unidentified human remains were found in the “rugged terrain of the open desert of Yucca Valley,” a short distance from where she was last seen months before, according to a press release from the San Bernardino County Sheriff Department.

Cho, a 2013 Westminster graduate, was reported missing on June 28 after walking away from the place she was staying with her friends and boyfriend in Yucca Valley, which is in the southern part of California.

The process to identify the remains “could take several weeks,” according to the Sheriff’s Department.

During her time at Rider, Cho played a role in a production of the popular play “Rent” and followed her passion for teaching — which stayed with her beyond her collegiate years — by majoring in music education.

Cho, who was known to most as “El,” worked as a music teacher after college and was employed at Diamond Heart Studios, a tattoo parlor in her hometown of Flemington, New Jersey, before deciding to venture to the West Coast, according to recent social media posts and articles from multiple news publications.

A Facebook page run by one of Cho’s relatives stated on Sept. 20 “El is many things … a talented musician, an incredible baker, a hilarious and loyal friend, a strangely intuitive gift giver and probably the coolest sister one could hope for.”

Skyler Ryan Figueroa worked with Cho at Diamond Heart Studios, but by the time Cho departed the job, the two were much more than co-workers. They were friends who sent each other memes, spent time together outside of work, ate meals together and could rely on each other unconditionally.

“I always go back to a couple memories, like when I was going through something really rough and I walked into the studio and she was the first person I saw for the day and I just hugged her and kind of collapsed,” Figueroa said in an interview with The Rider News. “She was just really, really there for me through some super brutal times and I think about that really often because I feel like, through some of this, she was one of the only people that trusted my judgment and really listened to what I had to say about what I was experiencing.”

The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department said that no further information on the case will be released until the remains are identified.

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