*UPDATE: Three men have been arrested for murder in connection to the disappearances of Audrey Moran and Jonathan Reynoso.*
LEAD UP TO DISAPPEARANCE:
On May 10, 2017, it’s reported that Audrey Moran spent time with her boyfriend, Jonathan Reynoso, and his roommate, before heading to her job at Extra Space Storage in Bermuda Dunes, California. While she was at work, Jonathan claimed to have been heading to Brawley, California with a group of friends.
After leaving Extra Space Storage, Audrey stopped by her sister’s residence in Coachella, California. There had been early reports that she’d gone to her mother’s house, but these have since been rectified. At around 8:00pm that night, Audrey left her sister’s place, saying she was heading out to pick up Jonathan, who was on his way back from Brawley and didn’t own a car. While she wouldn’t inform her sister of the specific location, she did say she would be dropping him off at his residence in Palm Desert, California.
At 8:45pm, Audrey’s sister received a text, which featured a photo of Audrey and Jonathan. While it is believed to be an old image, it led Audrey’s sister to believe the pair were together, something that has never been confirmed. It’s thought Audrey sent the photo for fun and, as such, the authorities don’t believe there’s anything suspicious about it.
On May 11, 2017 Audrey’s family made numerous attempts to get in contact with her. However, they never received a response to their texts or phone calls. This struck them as weird, as she was normally in constant contact with them.
Given they were unable to get a hold of her, the Moran family reported Audrey as missing to the Indio Police Department in the early hours of May 12, 2017. Not long after, the investigation into both her and Jonathan’s disappearances began.
Initially, the Indio Police Department were in charge of the investigation. During its early stages, both Audrey and Jonathan were considered voluntary missing adults, as there were no signs of foul play. That didn’t stop friends and family from across the Inland Empire in California from being interviewed. When spoken to by investigators, those closest to the pair said there was nothing in their behaviours prior to their disappearances that had raised any red flags, as they had had a good relationship.
It’s currently unknown if the people Jonathan was reported to have gone to Brawley with have been interviewed. One of his close friends told investigators that he’d last heard from him around 9:05pm on May 10, 2017, as he’d messaged a group Instagram chat.
At around 9:00am on May 12, 2017, police located Audrey’s 2010 charcoal grey GMC Terrain SUV parked along westbound I-10, west of Oak Valley Parkway in Beaumont, California. They had tracked the vehicle to its location via On-Star, and were surprised to see it was away from the route Audrey would have taken to Brawley, as the Oak Valley Parkway was 45 minutes west. There were no signs of forced entry or damage, the SUV was in normal operating condition and the gas tank was full.
Upon the vehicle being located, bloodhounds were brought in. Reports vary on whether they picked up the scents of both missing persons or just Jonathan, but what has been confirmed is that they were able to follow a scent trail west of the SUV for about 20 yards, before it stopped. This has led investigators to believe the pair may have gotten into another vehicle.
A search of the SUV was done upon it being towed to the Indio Police Department. Neither of their cellphones were located, nor was Audrey’s purse or Jonathan’s wallet. As well, forensic tests uncovered nothing significant or out of the ordinary. As a result, the vehicle was later returned to the Moran family.
The discovery of the vehicle on I-10 has led to many questions as to how the couple may have left the area. As the cameras along the interstate are only used to show live traffic conditions, they don’t record footage, so investigators were unable to obtain any surveillance video from the area. As such, the Moran family has asked if anyone in the lower Coachella Valley had seen the SUV, which had the California license plate 6MIG265, during the week before the pair’s disappearances.
In order to help spread the word about the cases, the Moran and Reynoso families came together. Jonathan’s mother, Mayra Torres, booked a flight to the area upon finding out her son was missing, and she and other family members circulated thousands of flyers featuring the couple’s photos. The flyers were distributed across southern California, Arizona, Mexicali and Nevada, as well as in trailer parks located off Oak Valley Parkway. Details were also shared via social media using the hashtag #FindJonathanandAudrey.
As the investigation drew on, police shared their belief that any activity in regards to the pair’s disappearances occurred between May 10 and May 11, 2017. They also stated that they believed the two hadn’t made it to Jonathan’s residence in Palm Desert.
Cellphone pings showed that neither Audrey nor Jonathan had placed or received calls from outside eastern Coachella Valley on the night they went missing. As the location of both cellphones is still unknown and they haven’t pinged off any other cell towers, it’s believed they either ran out of battery or were turned off shortly after the pair were last heard from.
A pizza box found in Jonathan’s residence has led some to question if he’d actually gone to Brawley on May 10, 2017. The pizza is believed to have been delivered around 5:45pm that evening, during the time he was supposed to be out of town. It would have been impossible for him to have ordered the pizza and then made his way to Brawley, given the possible time frame and the fact he didn’t own a vehicle. As of 2019, investigators have been unable to confirm if he had travelled to Brawley. However, it’s their belief that he’d been heading back to Palm Desert with friends, but it’s currently not known who these friends are.
In order to help bring in new leads, numerous law enforcement agencies from across the country were notified of the disappearances. The Indio Police Department also utilized the National Law Enforcement Teletype System and the Missing Unidentified Person’s System to help spread the word.
On May 25, 2017, the Moran family held a prayer service at Our Lady Soledad Catholic Church in Coachella, which is the same church Audrey had been baptized at. The hour-long service saw more than 650 people attend.
A GoFundMe fundraiser was set up by the families to help raise money for a reward for information about the pair’s whereabouts. A fundraiser was also held at La Quinta Brewing Co. on June 23, 2017, and eventually the goal of $10,000 was met.
Social media exploded with comments and speculation regarding the cases. Some of the rumours revolved around the pair’s personal lives, and all were checked for relevancy, resulting in delays in the search. As such, investigators have urged the public to not spread unsubstantiated rumours and instead only discuss the facts of the investigation.
There are conflicting reports on whether or not Audrey was also seeing someone else whilst dating Jonathan, as the pair’s relationship was still fairly new and not exclusive. A few days after the pair went missing, a man she is believed to have at one point dated reported his car as missing before later torching it. Police confirmed that the case had led investigators to the vehicle, which had been set ablaze near Thermal, an unincorporated community in the Coachella Valley. The man was interviewed by police and a search warrant was issued for his home, but it hasn’t been said if anything of value was found. A connection between the two cases hasn’t been confirmed, and Audrey’s SUV is the only vehicle currently associated with her and Jonathan’s disappearances.
In September 2017, a fundraiser was held at Stuft Pizza Bar & Grill to help with the production of flyers, banners and other materials used to help spread the word.
There has been no suspicious activity noted on the couple’s financial records.
The case was since been turned over to the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Central Homicide Unit, so that all information can be funnelled into one place. In January 2018, it was announced that investigators had no reason to believe the pair had left of their own accord.
Family members have distributed bracelets with the pair’s names on them, as well as a phone number the public can call if they have any information regarding the cases.
In 2019, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department shared that they felt the cases are still solvable. While they have shared very little information with the public, the investigation is still ongoing and is currently being motivated by hope. Investigators have spent numerous man hours searching for Audrey and Jonathan, and have requested numerous warrants, but no one has been publicly listed as a suspect or person of interest. It’s as if the pair have gone missing without a trace, as there’s never been a definitive explanation of where they went or why they can’t be found, and there’s no evidence to show if they’re alive or dead. As such, the disappearances are still considered missing persons cases.
Police have shared that the search now spans across most of southern California. Tips have been called in from across the state, including from strangers who believe they’ve seen the couple.
1) An early theory in the investigation is that the pair voluntarily disappeared in order to start a new life together, possibly in another part of the United States. This would explain why there’s never been an indication of where they went and why. However, given the close relationships they had with their families and the short amount of time in which they’d been dating, many feel their disappearances are involuntary. There’s also the fact there’s been no activity on their social media accounts, cellphones or back accounts.
2) A second theory revolves around the man Audrey is said to have also been involved with. Some speculate he could have been a former lover looking for revenge and, as such, he’d torched his car in order to prevent police from looking at it and uncovering any information that could tie him to Audrey and Jonathan’s disappearances.
Police haven’t shared much about this man or if the search warrant of his residence uncovered anything of interest. As well, he’s never been publicly announced as a suspect.
3) The final theory is that foul play is involved. Some feel the photo sent from Audrey’s cellphone was actually sent by someone else in order to make her sister believe she and Jonathan had been together when they actually weren’t. Could someone have gotten a hold of Audrey’s cellphone and sent the text in order to mislead investigators and her family, and did either of them actually travel to Brawley on May 10, 2017?
There’s also the possibility that they could have fell victim to a drug deal gone wrong. However, not much has been shared as to why this is a possibility, as there’s not been reports the pair were involved with illicit drugs.
Numerous prayer vigils have been held in order to help keep the cases in the public eye.
Jonathan’s mother wrote letters to him on Facebook, hoping he’d respond to one of them. However, she’s never received a response from her son.
A Facebook page has been set up by the pair’s loved ones, in the hopes of spreading information and bringing in leads.
Both families have kept in touch throughout the duration of the investigation.
CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:
Audrey Moran went missing from Coachella, California on May 10, 2017. She was 26 years old and was last seen wearing a black shirt, a black sweater, a pair of black shorts and black high heel-type sandal shoes. She’s also known to wear a gold necklace with the name “Joelee”. At the time of her disappearance, she stood between 5’0″ and 5’2″ and weighed approximately 120 to 130 pounds. She has long brown hair and brown eyes. Her ears are pierced and she wore glasses. She has a scar on the upper left side of her back and one on her thigh, both of which are the result of abscesses from when she was a teenager. She has the following tattoos: A dove with “Faith” on one hip, a dove with “Hope” on her other hip, and “My Little Piece of Heaven” written in red ink on the left side of her chest.
Jonathan “Darling” Reynoso went missing from southern California on May 10, 2017. He was 28 years old and what he was last seen wearing is currently unknown. At the time of his disappearance, he stood between 5’10” and 5’11” and weighed approximately 175 to 190 pounds. He has brown hair that was worn in a faded military cut style and brown eyes, and he had a goatee. He has scars on his right knee and above his right eyebrow, as well as a mole on the right side of his lip, close to his nose. He’s also said to have an extra nipple on the left side of his chest. He has the following tattoos: an Asian symbol on the left side of his chest, a skull on his right arm, an open book with “Son of God” on the inside of his left arm, the “760” area code on his left arm, and ethnic flags on the inside of his right arm.
Currently, the two cases are classified as “missing under suspicious circumstances”. If alive, Audrey would be 28 years old and Jonathan would be 30 years old.
If you have any information regarding the case, you can contact the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department at 760-393-3544 or the Palm Desert Sheriff’s Station at 760-836-1600. Tips can also be called into the Indio Police Department at either 760-391-4051, 760-797-5839, 760-880-3828 or 760-396-6661.
Image Credit: Patch