Missing Couple Found Dead Off Hiking Trail Near Big Bear

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
February 6, 2020US News
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Missing Couple Found Dead Off Hiking Trail Near Big Bear
View of Big Bear Lake taken from the Cougar Crest Trail, close to where the bodies of Paul Stockwell and Ria Gabriella Williams were found on Feb. 3, 2020. (Rick McCharles/Flickr/Creative Commons [CC BY 2.0 (ept.ms/2haHp2Y)])

A missing young couple was found dead off a hiking trail near Big Bear, California, San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department said on Tuesday, with police treating the investigation as homicide.

Paul Arthur Stockwell Jr., 29, of Big Bear and Ria Gabriella Williams, 27, of Santa Ana were found about half a mile off the Cougar Crest trail near Big Bear on Monday at 1:30 p.m. Earlier that day, police had found Williams’s car at the trail’s parking lot.

Deputy Ryan Girard and his K-9 Dare were called in to assist with the search, which led to the find just half a mile from the Big Bear Discovery Center, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“Due to the circumstances, specialized detectives from the homicide detail were requested to conduct the investigation,” the sheriff’s department said.

“On Friday, Jan. 31, Williams did not report to work, and a co-worker reported her missing. Stockwell had also been reported missing by his father,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement.

“Neither of the missing person reports indicated any suspicious circumstances or reason to suspect foul play,” the statement read, but “an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death for each victim.”

Big Bear Discovery Center
The bodies were found half a mile west of the Big Bear Discovery Center on Feb. 3, 2020. (Rick McCharles/Flickr/Creative Commons [CC BY 2.0 (ept.ms/2haHp2Y)])
The sheriff’s office asked that anyone with information should contact Detective Nick Craig at 909-387-3589. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through WeTip by dialing 800-782-7463 or by going to http://www.wetip.com.

Missing Persons

Over 600,000 people go missing in the United States every year, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

Many of the missing adults and children are found safe, but others are never seen or are found dead.

“It is estimated that 4,400 unidentified bodies are recovered each year, with approximately 1,000 of those bodies remaining unidentified after one year,” the center stated.

The first 72 hours in a missing person’s case is the most critical, according to criminology experts. That’s partly because investigators have the best chance of following up on leads before people’s memories start to fade, Dr. Bryanna Fox, former FBI agent and criminology professor at the University of South Florida, told ABC News.

“The information that law enforcement gets tends to be a little more accurate, and they are able to act on the information and hopefully get that person who is missing quicker,” Fox said. Later, there are fewer “bread crumbs,” or leads to follow.

Dr. Michelle Jeanis, a criminology professor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, said that time is of the essence because the missing person could be in danger.

The Associated Press contributed to this article

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