Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Southern California and far-away places. Hiking, wildlife, cycling etc.

Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Perry » Tue Oct 08, 2019 9:29 am

Some pages back, Tom mentioned that Ewasko had filed for bankruptcy twice after the subject came up, and I thought it odd that he offered financial advice to his clients. Of course, that doesn't prove anything.

An alleged former employee expressed an opinion in the comments here that is disputed by apparently Bill's fiance Mary:
https://ijustdisappear.com/wp/2018/05/2 ... mysteries/

All speculation. I do think that if there wasn't anything fishy or foul, then mental state played a role (early dementia, mild stroke, or medications). Some of his notes didn't make sense. He had directions to the Juniper Flats trailhead (was familiar with the park and had worked recon) but according to Mary he said he was going to Carey's Castle and Pappy and Harriet's when cell data had him travelling west on the I-10 I believe.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Myth » Tue Oct 08, 2019 12:13 pm

Mary didn't want him to be out hiking to remote places that she felt was dangerous to hike to, as I recall. Of course this is backwards, but he could have said he was going one place ( to reassure her ) and then gone another. So it would make sense if he said he was going to, say, Quail Mountain and then sneaking off to Carey's Castle, which was the remote place she was worried about. But that's not what the data points to. Just wanted to throw that out there - I know I've been really tempted to tell people I was going somewhere benign when I wanted to do an adventure I knew they'd balk at, worrying for my safety. Never done it though, because safety overrides my sense of adventure.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby OtherHand » Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:52 pm

Perry wrote:... Some of his notes didn't make sense. He had directions to the Juniper Flats trailhead (was familiar with the park and had worked recon) but according to Mary he said he was going to Carey's Castle and Pappy and Harriet's when cell data had him travelling west on the I-10 I believe.


I've always found the existence of notes for the drive to the Juniper Flats trailhead to be odd, and inconsistent with Ewasko's knowledge of the park. But he had something of a reputation as an obsessive list maker so maybe that's all there is to it.

The statement that he told Mary he was going to Carey's seemed off with my recollections of the sequence, so I dug into it. The JTNP narrative says in the phone call Ewasko made to Mary enroute to the park he told her he was going to Carey's. However I wanted clarification because that sounded a bit odd, so I asked Mary for details about the phone call. Below is part of her emailed response (This is presumably the call that pinged the Thousand Palms tower at 8:00 AM):

He said it was a beautiful morning and he was very excited to be going out there.
All I know is that when he called me he was in the car on I-10. I have no idea what hike he was going on first. He was pretty good, in fact, a fanatic about making lists. He did not tell me where he was going first. He told me he had a lunch and snacks and water and if he needed more he had more water in the car. I do know he wanted to go to Carey's Castle and I had a creepy feeling about it after I researched it on the internet, I asked him to please not go there alone. He just laughed about it.


My take on it is Ewasko, while not explicitly saying he was going to Carey's, left enough ambiguity in Mary's mind that she insisted to park officials that's where he was headed. This may have resulted from the bad feelings she had about the place and the fact Bill was missing, thus adding to those feelings.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Perry » Tue Oct 08, 2019 10:53 pm

Once again, this is looking less strange and more like a normal hike. I had also meant notes of his itinerary: potential hikes listed near unrelated places, but everybody can make mistakes with details. The local media does (do) it all the time.

OtherHand wrote:
He told me he had a lunch and snacks and water and if he needed more he had more water in the car.

That's interesting. Kind of sounds like he had took more than 2 bottles but difficult to know for sure.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby backpackpack » Mon Oct 21, 2019 9:12 pm

I did not read every single post in this thread, but I read the last few pages and I gather that he has not been found. Is that the case?

(I've been posting a lot recently, please don't be annoyed) :mrgreen:
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby RichardK » Tue Oct 22, 2019 12:27 pm

backpackpack wrote:I did not read every single post in this thread, but I read the last few pages and I gather that he has not been found. Is that the case?

(I've been posting a lot recently, please don't be annoyed) :mrgreen:


No, Bill Ewasko has not been found. Rather than read 80 pages of posts, see this web site for a more concise description of events: https://www.otherhand.org/home-page/sea ... ll-ewasko/
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby backpackpack » Tue Oct 22, 2019 10:28 pm

Such a strange story. If he perished it is likely his body was scattered by predation. At this point you would be looking for bones that are probably spread apart.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby ColCopperpot » Sun Nov 17, 2019 8:12 pm

I honestly think after so many years the best bet is not in finding new places to search but researching tracks to see if scatter has spread enough to find him. You can make as many crazy theories as you want but after NINE YEARS it is very possible something someone missed is very visible now.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby Carnivore » Tue Nov 19, 2019 12:28 am

This might be ironic, but it's possible that Bill spent his last days searching for something, somewhat resembling our search for him. Since his call to Mary on the morning of June 24, there were multiple conflicting reports of the location and orientation of his vehicle at Juniper Flats Trailhead. I find it hard to believe that so many people were mistaken on the vehicle's location, and the other possibility that he was randomly targeted by a murderer who decided to move his car multiple times (in a U-Haul?) is less likely than the chance of me hitting the Powerball and the Mega Millions jackpots on the same week.

The most likely explanation is that he explored multiple areas of the park on the day of his call to Mary. He left Juniper Flats at least once to revisit those places as soon as he realized that he lost something of great value to him (business contacts? confidential messages? personal data?) and was also prevented from communicating with the people he knew. Losing his phone on the trail would fit that situation almost perfectly, so here's a possible timeline:

Thursday, June 24 -
8 AM - Bill Ewasko calls Mary and says that he's heading westbound near Monterey Ave and intends to be out of the park by 5 PM and plans to take dinner in Pioneertown. He turns his phone off to conserve power not because he intends on taking a long hike, but because he forgot to charge his phone the night before or had problems charging it (maybe he lost/misplaced his charger?)
9:15 - Bill should have reached Juniper Flats trailhead based on his 8 AM location. But since he does not intend on going on any long hikes, he decides to start from the parts of the park that are east and/or south of Juniper Flats. He intends to see those attractions (Keys View? Skull Rock? Lost Horse Mine Trail?) first before driving north and/or west to Juniper Flats, which is closer to Pioneertown.
10:20 - Hiker Greg Mendoza arrives at Juniper Flats and notices that no other vehicles are present. Bill is still somewhere else in the park.
3:30 PM? - Bill arrives at Juniper Flats and heads west to Quail Mountain. He only goes a short distance, perhaps less than a mile, before he realizes that it is too much of a hike and too late in the day to get close enough to the mountain to see some nice views. He returns to his car and thinks he can squeeze in another small hike before dinner, so he decides to try out an adventurous route from Juniper Flats to Ryan Mountain.
5:30 to 6 PM - Mendoza returns and sees a white vehicle pointed west and notes fresh boot tracks heading west. These may have been from Bill's short afternoon hike in the direction of Quail Mountain.
7 PM? - Bill returns from Ryan Mountain but realizes that he does not have his phone, and possibly his wallet as well. He thinks he may have dropped it/them on his way back from Ryan Mountain, so he does a quick search to look for them and returns at sunset without finding anything. He decides to stay put and do a more thorough search for the item(s) the next morning, while it's still cool and before someone can find them.

Friday, June 25 -
6 - 11? AM - Bill searches the area near Ryan Mountain again and then decides to check out the trail leading to Quail Mountain after another unsuccessful search.
8:45 AM - David and Cheryl Haber arrive at Juniper Flats and notice a white vehicle pointed west.
10:30 - The Habers return to the trailhead and notice that the white vehicle is still there.
11? - Bill leaves to check other parts of JTNP that he went the day before so that he can find his missing items. He does not return to Juniper Flats until the following morning.
1:30 PM - Ranger Mike Grayson drives past the Juniper Flats trailhead and does not see Ewasko's vehicle either there or at Keys View or Lost Horse Mine.

Saturday, June 26 -
9 AM - Ranger Grayson checks Keys View and Juniper Flats again and does not see any vehicles at Juniper Flats.
10? - 2? PM - Bill drives back to Juniper Flats and searches again without finding anything.
1:15 PM - Park employee Mimi Gorman passes by Juniper Flats and notices a white vehicle pointed east.
2? - 4? - Bill searches a different part(s) of JTNP yet again without success before heading back to Juniper Flats. He searches Ryan Mountain one last time, suffers an injury or a rattlesnake bite, and never returns.
4:56 - A CHP helicopter observes Ewasko's vehicle at Juniper Flats pointed west.
6:46 - The search for Ewasko at Juniper Flats begins.

Sunday, June 27 -
6:50 AM - A desperate Ewasko manages to get reception for a very brief time and pings the Verizon cell tower on Serin Dr. Due to a typo or human error in reading the printout, the recorded 20.6 or 18.6 mile distance between the phone and the tower is mistakenly transcribed as 10.6 miles. It is also possible that someone else (let's call him Mr. X) found his phone and/or wallet on or before Saturday with the intention to return or steal it. Mr. X lives 10-ish miles away from the Serin Tower, in an area outside of JTNP. On Sunday morning, he powers up the phone to get information on its owner. But the phone's battery is low, and it only gets one brief ping out before it dies. Mr. X decides that it's not worth the hassle to return the phone, or he doesn't want to get traced and caught stealing a phone and possibly a wallet as well. In either case, he disposes of it.

If I lived near the area and had the time, I'd look for Bill in the sparsely searched areas east of Keys View Rd and near Ryan Mountain. The "diversion to Smith Water Canyon" theory never made much sense to me - If I ran out of water before reaching Quail Mountain, why would I go even further away from my car to get water? After filling up water in SWC, I'd run out of water again before reaching my car, even if the terrain wasn't that difficult. Heck, I might even get diarrhea from drinking the untreated water and end up losing even more fluids.

An alternate theory is that Bill almost reaches the summit of Quail Mountain before turning back and goes nowhere else (not Ryan Mountain or other areas of JTNP). He heads south and intends to return to his car, but gets lost/disoriented on the way back (like Ed Rosenthal did in another area of JTNP). He drops his bandanna as a marker since he can't find the trail and isn't sure where to go. He keeps going south, looking for a shelter from the afternoon heat. He moves at night to take advantage of the cooler weather and continues going south, lured by the bright lights of the Coachella Valley. But he gets injured on his descent through the rough terrain and/or succumbs to dehydration and never makes it to Dillon Rd.
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Re: Story of missing hiker in Joshua Tree NP

Postby zippetydude » Tue Nov 19, 2019 5:59 am

Wow, you put some serious thought into that narrative. Nice writing and clever thinking.

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