According to the family of Rachel Nguyen, they are not condemning her boyfriend Joseph Orbeso for killing her before taking his own life after the pair got lost hiking in Joshua Tree three months ago.
The Nguyen family stated on Saturday that they are not blaming him for the loss of the 20-year-old’s life following reports the day before that the pair died in an apparent sympathetic murder-suicide in the popular hiking spot in California.
The couple, who had gone missing after they went hiking for Rachel’s birthday on July 28, was found on October 15 locked in an embrace. They apparently lost their way and got stranded without enough food and water.
An autopsy conducted by the police indicated that the pair, both from Orange County, had died of gunshot wounds, based on the results released on Friday. Authorities say Orbeso, a 22-year-old may have shot his girlfriend first before he took his own life.
In a statement released to the San Francisco Gate, Rachel’s family expressed that they believe what Joseph did was a case of mercy killing since they might have given up hope that they would ever be found.
They also expressed gratitude that the pair was eventually found.
“We hold no grudges against Joseph or the Orbeso family. We thank God that we’ll be able to give Rachel a proper burial and lay her to rest,” the Nguyen family said in the statement.
Authorities were first alerted that the couple had gone missing after they failed to check out of the Airbnb apartment they had checked in. Earlier reports indicated that the couple entered Joshua Tree National Park at around 6:45 a.m. on July 27. Around that time, temperatures in the park reportedly reached around 100 degrees.
A rescue team of over 250 members conducted a massive search on foot, horseback, and from the air scouring through the park’s 791,000 acres to find the couple for over a week.
To help support their grieving family members, the couple’s friends have set up GoFundMe page.