EXCLUSIVE: Parents of Joshua Tree Hiker Found Dead Say Son Kille - Palm Springs News, Weather, Traffic, Breaking News

Joshua Tree National Park

EXCLUSIVE: Parents of Joshua Tree Hiker Found Dead Say Son Killed Friend and Himself to End Suffering

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The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department told Joseph Orbeso's parents Gilbert and Corina Mallari, their son shot his friend Rachel Nguyen and then killed himself. The couple had been missing since July after going for a hike in Joshua Tree.

They say they were shocked at the lack of context in the release because it made it look like the killing was premeditated. They say the sheriff's department told them their son did it to put an end to their suffering and are upset the press release didn't reflect that. They want people to know it wasn't murder it was an act of mercy.

Joseph's parents were relived to find the body of their 22-year-old son and his friend 20-year-old Nguyen. The pair had been missing since July after a hike in Joshua Tree. ... His father Gilbert never stopped searching. He was there when the bodies were found.

"They were side by side lying next to each other and their arms were around each other," says Gilbert, adding that he found comfort in the way they were found, "Because that's the kind of man he is the kind of person we raised him to be."

But after the sheriff's department issued a press release saying Joseph shot Rachel and then himself without context they were incensed.

"It just doesn't seem right all the evidence that points to that but they're going to say murder suicide still under investigation but they told us they would review it and it would have sympathy in it would have that he did it to end her suffering," says Mallari, Joseph's mother.

Joseph's parents say their son did have a gun registered under his name and took it along to protect Rachel and a friend confirmed that with a text saying he took it to protect her from a man who had been stalking Rachel. stalker.

They also say empty water bottles, food wrappers and bandaged wounds they were found with show the two friends tried to survive as long as they could in brutal July conditions in the desert but when they realized no one was coming they had no choice but to take their own lives.

"I can't even imagine what he went through in his mind to even think that he could do this and I'm sure he struggles with himself because away from them there were bullet casings because he didn't want to do it ... his heart was broken, his heart was broken for her it was beyond courage because it was just for love," says Joseph's mom.

His mom says about five days into the search she felt the exact moment of his death, "I just woke up, three o'clock in the morning and I took these breaths that I've never ever felt before as if it were his last, I felt him ... and you watch them take their very first breath and I felt him take his very last."

They say their son loved life and had plans to become a park ranger They say Joseph's sister told them he was planning to do something special for their parents when he returned before moving out. Now, his sister says she will carry out the surprise in his honor. 

"Now you tell me, you tell me that he was going to go there and do that  ... he was coming back."

We reached out to the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department, they did not return our call but they did issue additional information saying the couple did ration food. Rachel Nguyen's family also sent a statement that says in part that it's a difficult time for the family and investigators told them it was a sympathetic murder suicide and they hold no grudges against Joseph or the Orbeso family.

Joseph's mother says while detectives tell her they're still investigating she and her husband are confident their story about their son and how he ended their lives as an act of mercy will be proven to be true.

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