The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office has released information obtained from Jonathan Gerish’s mobile phone after months of working with the FBI’s forensics team.
One text, made shortly before noon on August 15, asked an unnamed man, “You can help us,” and added, “There is no water or (overheating) with the child,” post on Facebook Maripos County Sheriff’s Office.
But there was poor mobile service in the area, and the text never passed. There were also no five phone calls to various individuals, investigators said.
31-year-old Ellen Chung, her 45-year-old husband, their 1-year-old daughter Aurelia “Midge” Chung-Gerish and their dog Oski were found dead on a footpath near the Merced River last August.
Their deaths embarrassed investigators. More than 30 law enforcement agencies were involved in the case, which carefully investigated – and ruled out – causes such as killings, lightning strikes, poisoning by algae-contaminated water, abandoned mines that could emit toxic gas, illegal drugs and suicide.
Last fall, investigators concluded that the family had died from severe heat stroke. The temperature that day reached 109 degrees Fahrenheit on a steep mountainous terrain, and the family ran out of water. A forest fire burned any shady canopy.
Officials found the family two days after relatives reported their disappearance. The family walked 6.4 miles with a child in a backpack. They were 1.6 km from their car.
The family had an empty 85-ounce container of water.
A mobile phone was found in Gerish’s pocket. Starting shortly after lunch, Gerish and Chung tried several times to call and send a text for help, the sheriff’s office said.
Five phone calls – four of which were made quickly – were received on several phone numbers, but the family did not call 911, the sheriff’s office said.
The first call was made at 12:09 a.m. Beginning at 12:35 p.m., the family’s last four calls were made quickly in a row, investigators said.
However, none of the calls were connected.
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