Search for missing Marine wife continues, new warrant details em - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Search for missing Marine wife continues, new warrant details emerge

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Marine wife Erin Corwin, age 20 Marine wife Erin Corwin, age 20
Detectives searched this Jeep Cherokee on July 1 (license plate reader image taken Dec. 22, 2013 in Yucca Valley) Detectives searched this Jeep Cherokee on July 1 (license plate reader image taken Dec. 22, 2013 in Yucca Valley)
Cpl. Christopher Lee, age 24 Cpl. Christopher Lee, age 24
Cpl. Jonathan Corwin, 21, and wife Erin Cpl. Jonathan Corwin, 21, and wife Erin
TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. (CBS 8) -- There is new information in the case of a pregnant Marine wife who has been missing for three weeks from her home in Twentynine Palms.

CBS News 8 has confirmed the names of a former Marine and his wife, who lived in an apartment that was searched on the Marine base.  That ex-Marine also volunteered at the same horse ranch as the missing woman.

Photographs posted on the website of the White Rock Horse Rescue Ranch earlier this year show Corporal Christopher Lee riding horses and helping out on the ranch in Yucca Valley.

It’s the ranch where missing marine wife, Erin Corwin, volunteered after she moved with her husband last fall onto Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms.

Corwin, 20, is three months pregnant and she's been missing since June 28.

According to public court records, in the early-morning hours of July 1, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s detectives served a total of four search warrants in connection with the disappearance of Corwin.

Two of the warrants were served at an apartment complex on Jasmine Dr. at the Twentynine Palms Marine base.

CBS News 8 has learned that Corporal Lee and his wife Nichole lived in apartment “D” where one of the warrants was served.  The other warrant was served at apartment "F" where, according to a Corwin family member, Erin Corwin lived with her husband, Corporal Jonathan Corwin, 21.

In a telephone interview, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Randy Naquin said neither Corporal Lee nor his wife have been named as suspects in Corwin’s disappearance.

“Just because their names are in a search warrant or you received their names from some other source rather than the sheriff’s department; they're not listed as suspects or persons of interest so we wouldn't have a comment.” Naquin said.

Erin Corwin's 2013 blue Toyota Corolla was found two days after she went missing. It was abandoned in the desert two miles from the Marine base.

Investigators served one search warrant on Corwin's Toyota and another search warrant on a dark-colored Jeep Cherokee with Alaska license plates, records showed.

CBS News 8 obtained a photo of the Jeep in question; an image captured by a private, license plate reading company on the afternoon of December 22, 2013.  The photo was taken in a parking lot in front of an Applebee’s restaurant near the intersection of Twentynine Palms Hwy and Warren Vista Dr. in Yucca Valley.

The registered owner of the Jeep could not be determined by CBS New 8 through the Alaska DMV, as Alaska state law prohibits release of such information to news organizations.   But public records show Corporal Christopher Lee was raised in Alaska, as was his wife Nichole.

CBS News 8 requested public military records for Corporal Lee from the Twentynine Palms base. Marine spokesperson Capt. Justin Smith sent us the following responses in a series of emails:

Cpl. Christopher B. Lee, 24, was discharged from the Marine Corps on July 7, 2014 and is currently serving in the Individual Ready Reserve. Cpl. Lee served as a rifleman with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, 1st Marine Division.

Cpl. Lee entered the Marine Corps July 7, 2008 and received an honorable discharge from the Marine Corps on July 7, 2014.

He did not reenlist in 2012. I can confirm he was on a six year contract.

Cpl. Lee deployed with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines from November 2012 to April 2013 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Awards:
- Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal (awarded July 7, 2011)
- Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
- Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
- National Defense Service Medal
- NATO Medal- ISAF Afghanistan

Neither Corporal Lee nor his wife responded to messages seeking comment for this report. Both have moved off base, said Capt. Smith.

Meanwhile, the search for Erin Corwin will continue this weekend. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department issued the following update on Friday:

The missing person investigation and search for Erin Corwin continues. Throughout the week, Specialized Investigators have been in Twentynine Palms and in and around Joshua Tree National Park searching and flying the remote areas. The ground search will resume through the weekend.

There is no information being released regarding possible witnesses, witness statements or investigative techniques used during this search. At this time, the search for Erin Corwin has not been classified as a criminal investigation. Additionally, there are no suspects or 'persons of interest' identified.

We appreciate your patience as investigators work tirelessly on this search. Updates will be provided as new information becomes available.

Investigators are continuing to ask anyone who may have information regarding the whereabouts of Erin Corwin to contact the Specialized Investigation Division (909) 387-3589 or Sheriff's dispatch at (909) 387-8313. Callers wishing to remain anonymous can contact the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463) or go to www.wetip.com

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UPDATE July 21, 2014:
The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department issued the follwing news release on Monday, July 21, 2014:

On Friday, July 4, 2014, investigators from the Sheriff’s Specialized Investigation Division were executing a search warrant at a residence in the 700 block of Geronimo Trail in Yucca Valley. Investigators located a destructive device inside the residence. The device was found to belong to the suspect, Christopher Brandon Lee. Lee was subsequently arrested, transported and booked into the Morongo Basin jail. Lee was released from custody of July 6, 2014, after posting bail.

Anyone with any information regarding this investigation is urged to call Sergeant Trevis Newport or Detective Daniel Hanke at (909) 387-3589 at the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Specialized Investigation Division. Callers wishing to remain anonymous may contact the We-Tip Hotline at 1-800-78-CRIME (27463).

The White Rock Horse Rescue ranch is located at 733 Geronimo Trail in Yucca Valley.  Lee was released on $25,000 bail, according to a Joshua Tree court clerk.  Lee has a tentative court date set in early September.




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