A California single mom who disappeared last year after setting out on a 'pandemic road trip' has been found dead in the desert months after her damaged car was found parked on the side of a highway. Erika Lloyd, 37, left her home in Walnut Creek on June 14 last year intending to complete a seven-hour drive to Joshua Tree National Park.
However, she never reached there, with police launching an extensive search, which finally ended recently after her skeletal remains were discovered in a desert close to Joshua Tree National Park. The cause and manner of death still remain undetermined, with police launching a fresh investigation.
Traced but Dead
Lloyd's human remains were discovered by a group of hikers on a desert trail in Wonder Valley, which is about 15 miles northeast of Joshua Tree. She was identified through her dental records, said the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department last week. "It is with a heavy heart to announce that these remains have been identified by San Bernardino County's Sheriff Department as my sister Erika," her brother, Colin Lloyd, wrote on the "Bringing Erika Home" Facebook page.
On Saturday, her brother shared photos of a 'memorial garden' created near the place where Erika's remains were discovered. The memorial featured two crosses made from wood, and stones set out in the shape of a love heart.
However, it is still unclear how the mother of one died and if she met with foul play or simply lost her bearings after setting off on a hike in Wonder Valley. Police have launched a separate investigation into this after discovering her body.
Mystery Shrouds Death
According to reports, there might be foul play involved in Lloyd's death. Family members last spoke with her over the phone on June 16. It was the same day her black Honda Accord was found damaged and abandoned at the edge of the Joshua Tree National Park, near the town of Twentynine Palms.
The front and back windows of the vehicle had been smashed out and the airbag had gone off. The next day, Lloyd's family members lodged a missing complaint. "She sounded like she was driving. She was speaking very rapidly. It was just hard to make out exactly what she was saying," her mother, Ruth Lloyd, said in an August interview with KRON.
Her mother had also told at that time that Lloyd had to shut down her business because of Covid-19 and had no income. She was homeschooling her child and was growing restless during lockdown measures and wanted to go camping near Joshua Tree.
Police at the time that time had said that no foul play was expected and were investigating whether Lloyd was involved in an accident. Her campsite and gear was found still intact at Jumbo Rocks Campground in Joshua Tree, about 10 miles from where the car was found. However, they are now investigating the incident from a different angle and not ruling out foul play.