A SINGLE mom who vanished on a “pandemic road trip” across California has been found dead in the desert months after her damaged car was discovered on the side of a highway.
Erika Lloyd, 37, set out on the 500-mile adventure from her home in Walnut Creek, headed to Joshua Tree National Park, on June 14 last year. It was the last known time she was ever seen alive.
Erika Lloyd, 37, was last seen setting off from her home in Walnut Creek on June 14 last year.Credit: Instagram / @beautybyerikalloyd
She was reported missing by her family on June 17.Credit: Facebook / Bring Erika Home
The mother-of-one’s disappearance sparked a large-scale search which came to end on January 31, when hikers discovered human remains on a desert trail in Wonder Valley – about 15 miles northeast of Joshua Tree, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said on Thursday.
The coroner’s office used dental records to determine who the remains had belonged to, but the cause and manner of death have not yet been ruled.
“It is with a heavy heart to announce that these remains have been identified by San Bernardino County’s Sheriff Department as my sister Erika,” her brother, Colin Lloyd, wrote in a February 18 post on the “Bringing Erika Home” Facebook page.
“There is no easy way for me to tell you all this and there’s no easy way for any of us to receive it.
“My wish is that we can all lean in a little closer, hold each other up, and remind each other more often that we’re here for one another with open arms and endless love; it’s what she would have wanted; it’s the spirit of who she was.”
Family members last spoke with her over the phone on June 16, the same day the vehicle she was last seen driving was found by California Highway Patrol abandoned and vandalized near the intersection of Highway 62 and Shelton Road in Twentynine Palms, KPIX reported.
Lloyd set of on a 500-mile journey.Credit: Google Maps
Her disappearance sparked a large-scale search which came to end on January 31, when hikers discovered human remains on a desert trail in Wonder Valley – about 15 miles northeast of Joshua Tree.Credit: Instagram / @beautybyerikalloyd
Her family reported her missing on June 17, according to Fox News.
“She sounded like she was driving. She was speaking very rapidly. It was just hard to make out exactly what she was saying,” her mother, Ruth Lloyd, said in an August interview with KRON, recalling the last conversation she had with her daughter.
She said she learned from her daughter’s friends that Erika was growing restless during lockdown measures and wanted to go camping near Joshua Tree.
“Her business got shut down because of COVID. She had no income. She was homeschooling her child, and it was just getting to her,” Ruth Lloyd told KRON.
Lloyd was 37-years-old when she vanished.Credit: Instagram / @beautybyerikalloyd
Lloyd’s parents said their daughter was struggling with pandemic-related lockdown measures.Credit: KESQ
Her car was found abandoned months before her remains were located.Credit: KESQ
Erika Lloyd’s black Honda sedan was found with smashed windows, a shattered radio, and the airbag deployed, KESQ reported.
Authorities said at the time that no foul play was expected and were investigating whether Lloyd was involved in an accident.
Her campsite and gear was found still intact at Jumbo Rocks Campground in Joshua Tree, about 10 miles from where the car was found.
It remains unclear whether Lloyd met with foul play or simply lost her bearings after setting off on a hike in Wonder Valley.
“Close to 8 months have passed since Erika disappeared and we have been blessed by countless efforts of selflessness and compassion on part of the community and our family,” Colin Lloyd continued in the Facebook post last week announcing his sister’s death.
He thanked the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department, the residents of Twentynine Palms and Wonder Valley, and others who performed searches in the desert over the past months, including Doug Billing, a local cave expert who has helped in other missing person cases in the area.
“You have all been nothing short of a miracle for us,” Colin Lloyd wrote. “Right now is the time for grieving and I encourage everyone to pause and reflect on the beautiful soul we’ve lost: our Erika.”
“Remember her, cherish her memory, celebrate moments past, and laugh; she would always make you laugh. Erika adored everyone; she left a bright smile on everyone’s heart; she would remind you of who you truly were and how important and loved you were; she warmed your soul. Let us hold her spirit dearly, and allow it to work through us to serve others (what she would want us to do).”
Lloyd was a mom-of-one.Credit: Facebook
Lloyd’s parents – Wayne and Ruth – previously told KESQ that their daughter decided to take the road trip as she wanted a change of scenery amid the coronavirus lockdown.
“Being locked down for almost three months, not being able to work and trying to home school her son – it was starting to get to her,” Ruth stated.
She added that her daughter may have also felt ‘pressure’ as she had no form of income.
Last August, Ruth told the news network that she was looking after Lloyd’s 12-year-old son.
At the time, he was constantly asking as to his mother’s whereabouts.
“He says ‘Are you calling about my mom? Are you talking to people?’ … So he misses her,” Ruth stated.
The investigation into Lloyd’s death continues.