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Woman missing near Idyllwild was in court battle over multi-million dollar estate

Dia Abrams filed a petition in 2019 seeking to invalidate a prenuptial agreement.

SAN DIEGO — Eleven miles east of Idyllwild is the sprawling Bonita Vista Ranch, where millionaire Lydia “Dia” Abrams lived with her fiancé, Keith Harper.

On June 6, Abrams, 65, mysteriously went missing on the 115-acre property, currently estimated to be worth about $2 million.

Harper, 71, told News 8 he was the last person to see Abrams alive.

Harper said he had lunch with Abrams at the ranch that Saturday afternoon, and last saw her around 2:30 p.m. when he went to mow the grass and do some ranch work.

“I was down on the meadow, which is probably 100 yards down,” Harper said.

When he returned from his work around 7:30 that evening, Harper said Abrams was gone. She had left her cell phone, purse and Ford truck behind.

Harper said he assumed Abrams went for a hike. And, if she did go out walking, Harper said she would have been carrying a 22-caliber pistol.

“We had an incident out here where she killed five rattlers. So yeah, you carry a pistol when you hike out here,” he said.

By nightfall, Harper started knocking on neighbors’ doors and friends started organizing a search for the next morning.

A large group of neighbors and friends searched the entire ranch on Sunday – on foot, on horseback, and by vehicle – but they could not locate Abrams.

One of the neighbors ended up calling a Riverside Sheriff’s lieutenant on Sunday.

But by the time deputies finally arrived to search the ranch on Monday afternoon, Abram’s fiancé had left the property.

Harper told News 8 he drove his RV out of state, for business in New Mexico and Colorado, while deputies spent three days searching the Bonita Vista Ranch for the missing Abrams.

However, Harper said he kept in touch with detectives by phone until he returned to the ranch later in the week.

During an interview on the ranch property, News 8 asked Harper if detectives had served a search warrant.  

“Oh yeah, we've had our cell phones, our computers, they were all taken,” he responded.

Abrams is the widow of the late Clem Abrams, a La Jolla developer and multimillionaire, who died in 2018.

For the past year, Abrams has been battling in San Diego probate court with her adult children, Clinton and Crisara Abrams, who were named trustees of the Clem Abrams estate.

Court filings show Abrams was seeking to invalidate her prenuptial agreement she signed with her husband in 1984. She also was seeking more than $6.7 million dollars in assets from the estate to fund a marital trust.

Through their attorneys, Clinton and Crisara Abrams filed an opposition to their mother’s probate petition. The attorneys declined to comment for this report.

Abrams’ fiancé said he was keenly aware of the ongoing probate battle, as it weighed heavily on Abrams.

“I just think it's a sad thing that you have to challenge your own children for the right to live,” Harper said. “Financially, she needed that support. She had had it from her husband for years and they withdrew that support from her.”

Harper said he believes the ongoing court battle could be related to Abrams’ disappearance.

“Probably, without a question,” he said. 

In Riverside County, a separate property filing is raising more eyebrows. 

Two weeks before Abrams went missing, she transferred ownership of her Bonita Vista Ranch, as well as two other properties in the same area, into a trust entitled the Dia Kenshalo Abrams Trust.

RELATED: Former La Jolla woman transferred property before disappearing near Idyllwild

The trust was not recorded, so the names of the beneficiaries are not public.

News 8 asked Abrams’ fiancé if he knew why Abrams had changed ownership of her ranch properties into a trust, and who the beneficiaries of the trust might be.

“We don't know. Her attorney would have the information,” Harper said. “I didn't get into her financial affairs.”

“She was changing them because she felt there was a threat to her life,” he added, without elaborating.

Later in the interview, Harper denied any involvement in Abrams’ disappearance and said they were planning on getting married in Jackson Hole, Wyoming on July 24.

“I loved the woman. We were going to get married. There was everything positive about our relationship. We didn't have almost any difficulties whatsoever,” he said.

Harper said he is offering a $10,000 for the safe return of Abrams.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department said on Tuesday it had no update on the Abrams case.  The agency has not identified the case as a homicide investigation, and no suspects or persons of interest have been named.

RELATED: Detectives investigate 6 missing person cases in and around Idyllwild

Editor's note: This article has been updated from its original version.