MOUNTAIN CENTER, Calif. — A woman died Thursday night in a reported ATV rollover at the Bonita Vista Ranch near Idyllwild, where a former La Jolla millionaire went missing in 2020. The victim was not believed to be Abrams, who went missing from the ranch on June 6, 2020.
Riverside County Sheriff investigators responded to the scene and soon declared the incident a "suspicious death" and dispatched homicide detectives.
The call for assistance came in just after 5 p.m. on December 23 from 58111 Bonita Vista Road in Mountain Center. The reporting party was Keith Harper, the boyfriend of the missing woman, Lydia “Dia” Abrams, according to dispatch scanner audio from CalFire/Riverside County Fire.
First responders attempted to call in an air ambulance, according to the dispatch audio, but none were available due to rainy weather and low visibility.
Dispatchers also had trouble reconnecting with the reporting party, Keith Harper.
“The phone number for the original [reporting party] keeps going to an answering machine for American Storage, unable to get anything further from them,” a dispatcher reported at 5:23 p.m.
Records show Harper is the owner of American Storage Complex in New Mexico.
The unnamed victim was reported to be involved in “possibly a quad rollover,” according to initial dispatch audio.
Around 5:40 p.m., responders reported the woman was dead on arrival. CHP then called the Riverside County Coroner to the scene.
On Friday evening, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department released the following incident update, which characterized the the incident as a "suspicious death investigation" but made no mention of any arrest:
"On 12-23-21, at 5:39 p.m., Hemet Station deputies responded to the 58000 block of Bonita Vista Rd., reference a suspicious death investigation initially believed to have been a traffic fatality. Upon arriving, deputies located a deceased female in the open area of a large private property with unexplained injuries. A crime scene was secured, and the Central Homicide Unit responded and assumed the investigation. Investigators remained on scene until the late afternoon hours of 12-24-21, due to the terrain and inclement weather. The victim’s identity is being withheld pending next of kin notification.
If anyone has information regarding this investigation, they are encouraged to call Master Investigator Loureiro of the Central Homicide Unit Station at 951-955-277 or Investigator Rinkert of the Hemet Sheriff’s Station at 951-791-3400."
"There have been no arrests made in this case at this time. The investigation is still very new and active," wrote Riverside Sheriff's Sergeant Brandi Swan in an emailed response to News 8 questions.
Insiders told News 8 the woman involved in the reported ATV incident worked as a ranch hand at the Bonita Vista Ranch, once owned and operated by Dia Abrams, 65, until she went missing a year and a half ago.
"Abrams went missing under suspicious circumstances and foul play is suspected,” Riverside detectives wrote in a June 9, 2020 search warrant. The remains of Dia Abrams have not been found.
The boyfriend, Harper, has been involved in an ongoing probate court battle with Abrams’ two adult children for control of the ranch.
Abrams’ children were “informed and believe” that “[T]he Riverside County Sheriff’s Department is investigating Mr. Harper as a potential perpetrator of the crime or crimes that led to [Abrams’] disappearance,” according to the probate court petition.
Harper, 72, has not been named a suspect in Abrams’ disappearance by the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, which has been investigating the missing-person case.
A hearing on a request to remove Harper as trustee of the ranch and other estate properties was set for May 9, 2022 in Palm Springs probate court.
Update: On Sunday, Dec 26, 2021 the Riverside County Sheriff identified the victim:
"The victim has been identified as 46 year-old, Jodi Newkirk, a resident of the Mountain Center community. If anyone has information regarding this investigation, they are encouraged to call Master Investigator Loureiro of the Central Homicide Unit at 951-955-277 or Investigator Rinkert of the Hemet Sheriff’s Station at 951-791-3400."
Photo taken Friday morning at Lake Hemet Sheriff Substation.
Editor's note: This article has been update from its original version to include details in the Riverside County Sheriff's news release.
WATCH: Where is Dia Abrams? Search launched for woman missing from her ranch near Idyllwild (Feb 2021)