[Update] Chinese woman missing after her US tour guide found dead in California state park

[Update] Chinese woman missing after her US tour guide found dead in California state park
via GoFundMe
Carl Samson
October 17, 2023
Update (10/19/2023): In a new statement to CBS 8 San Diego, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said they have not confirmed the identity of the remains found in the desert state park. As of Wednesday, John Root Fitzpatrick was still considered missing. This new information, however, contradicts previous reporting from multiple outlets, which identified the remains as belonging to Fitzpatrick.
A Chinese woman has been missing for months after embarking on a trip to California with a local man who was recently found dead.
Where it all started: Jin Fang, 47, corresponded with John Root Fitzpatrick, 52, on the internet for six months before she flew to Los Angeles on July 14, 2023. Fitzpatrick, a Morongo Valley resident, was hired to be her tour guide.
“Fitzpatrick was hired to be Jin’s tour guide of the Morongo Basin area,” said Officer Gloria Huerta of San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, as per the Hi-Desert Star. “They were supposed to go camping, but the amount of time was not disclosed.”
John Root Fitzpatrick and Jin Fang. via redian.news, missingpersonscenter.org
When concerns began: After picking up Fang in Palm Springs on July 15, Fitzpatrick took her to Joshua Tree National Park, according to a GoFundMe page organized for her search. But by July 22, she could no longer be contacted, and her phone went out of service three days later.
Fang was reported missing on July 26, and Fitpatrick on July 30. Darryl Hoss, a longtime friend who reported the latter, said the missing pair had formed a romantic relationship on Facebook, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Image via missingpersonscenter.org
Fitzpatrick found: Fitzpatrick was reportedly found dead in Harper Canyon, south of state Route 78, in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park last month. His vehicle, a blue Toyota Tacoma with license plate 24478S1, was found parked nearby.
About Fitzpatrick: Fitzpatrick was a former Navy seal known as a master parachutist. Records show he was honorably discharged in 2010 as a chief petty officer, the San Diego Union-Tribune noted.
In 2020, Fitzpatrick pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor assault which subsequently landed him in a veterans treatment court, according to the Hi-Desert Star. He eventually completed the program and the charge was dismissed in April this year.
via redian.news
What’s next: Details on Fitzpatrick’s death are reportedly under seal. Fang, on the other hand, remains missing.
Her GoFundMe campaign said she did her due diligence before coming to the U.S., ordering a background report on Fitzpatrick. “With her previous experience living and doing business in Europe, Ms. Jin generally knew how to care for herself, unless she was a crime victim,” it added.
Anyone with information on Fang’s whereabouts is urged to contact detective Tyler Bengard and reference report number 092301014. Bengard can be reached at (760) 366-4175 or through dispatch at (909) 387-8313.
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