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Warrants served in case of Marine's missing wife

Jul. 16, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
Erin Corwin went missing from her Twentynine Palms...
Erin Corwin went missing from her Twentynine Palms...: Two days after 19-year-old Erin Corwin went missing, the Twentynine Palms woman's car was found near the back entrance of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center.
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Erin and Jonathan Corwin (San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department)

Four search warrants have been served in the ongoing search for Erin Corwin, a 20-year-old Marine wife who vanished from Twentynine Palms two and a half weeks ago.

According to the court documents published by CBS8, authorities sought permission to search two vehicles, one of which is Corwin's car, and two apartments on the Twentynine Palms Marine base.

The apartments are in a two-story tan stucco apartment building at 6650 Jasmine Drive, a residential area in the southeast corner of the Marine base. The warrants target apartments D and F.

Authorities have also asked for permission to search a dark-colored Jeep with Alaska license plates. It is unclear how this vehicle is related to the missing person investigation.

The warrants hope to find fingerprints, blood, hair fibers, electronic records — anything, really — for the investigation.

More: Erin Corwin turned 20 on Tuesday

The search warrant requests and authorization to search at night were approved in the early morning of July 1 by San Bernardino Superior Court Judge Jon Ferguson. Affidavits were sealed, but based on the information contained in them, there is probable cause that a felony had been committed, according to the court documents.

The San Bernardino County sheriff's detective who requested the search warrants has specific training with electronic storage devices and storage media, according to the court documents.

Corwin, the pregnant wife of Lance Cpl. Jonathan Corwin, was last seen on June 28. Her husband reported her missing on June 29, telling investigators that she planned to go to nearby Joshua Tree National Park. Her blue, 2013 Toyota Corolla was found the next day near a back entrance to the base.

Rescue crews have spent two weeks searching the rugged terrain of the park, but have paused to re-evaluate their search plan. Once a new plan is developed, they're expected to resume their search this weekend. More than 200 square miles have already been searched.

The 200 square miles where the search has taken place is merely the area that's been checked so far, and crews may cover more ground if they find something that points them in other directions.

San Bernardino County sheriff's Sgt. Bryan Lane said search crews can cover more ground if they find clues that point their investigation in a new direction.

"As we find clues, such as a shoe impression or tracks that lead to the desert, then we fall into following more standardized search techniques," Lane said. "We don't want to be out there just for the sake of being out there if it's not going to take us into a productive direction ... "We haven't suspended, we haven't ended, we haven't called off any part of the search."

The Los Angeles and Kern county sheriff's departments are helping.

"The investigation and search for Erin will continue until she is found," said Cynthia Bachman, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. "At this time, we can't estimate the amount of money spent, or will be spent, on this investigation."

More: Marines gather for support in missing Erin Corwin case

Rescuers have walked through "very hilly, very rocky, dry conditions," Lane said, adding that trails were rugged and problematic even for vehicles with four-wheel drive. The search has been complicated by thousands of mines, some unmarked, spread throughout the park, Lane said. Some are big enough "big enough for cars to fall into," he said.

High temperatures reached 94 degrees on June 28 in Joshua Tree, according to AccuWeather.com. Since then, fluctuating daytime highs have been as low as 90 degrees and as high as 101 degrees. It may reach 109 degrees Wednesday.

"The problem with a pregnant woman is (heat stroke) usually happens twice as fast," said Dr. Michael Hughes, assistant clinical professor with the University of California, Riverside. "It doesn't take long for them to get in trouble ... Her body's burning much more calories, so that requirement goes up."

Security footage taken at the base's three main gates was turned over to the sheriff's department, according to Marine Capt. Justin Smith.

Sentries at each of the base's gates also have been instructed to screen vehicles for women who fit Corwin's description.

Sheriff's officials say Corwin's disappearance "does not appear to be voluntary."

The suspicious circumstances could make it more difficult to find Corwin if it means someone doesn't want her to be found, Lane said.

"If they could be seen, they would be seen," he said of lost hikers.

Park rangers are assisting as liaisons, escorts and advisers for the sheriff's department and Joshua Tree remains open to the public, Joshua Tree spokeswoman Jennie Kish Albrinck said.

Desert Sun reporter Denise Goolsby contributed to this report.

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