Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.

This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.

News

The Case Of The Pregnant Marine Wife Who Has Been Missing Nearly A Month Takes A Strange Turn

Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.


New details in the case of a missing pregnant woman have been uncovered, including the possibility that her disappearance might have something to do with a neighbor with whom she was allegedly having an affair, and that his wife might be involved. Erin Corwin, 20, has been missing since June 28. She lived with her husband, Marine Cpl. Jonathan Corwin, on base in Twentynine Palms. She was three months pregnant.

Reports have been conflicting. When Corwin first went missing, the story was that she was heading up to Joshua Tree alone to scope out a place where she and her mother, who lives in Tennessee, could hang out on her upcoming birthday. She left the morning of June 28 at 7 a.m., but never returned home. Her husband reported her missing.

Two days later, they found her 2013 Toyota Corolla a few blocks from the Marine base, but about 8 miles from the Joshua Tree park entrance. Her phone was shut off.

Now, investigators are saying she was actually going on a day-long hunting trip with Christopher Lee, 24, to celebrate her pregnancy. The two may have been having an affair. Lee is also a Marine, who joined in 2008 and was honorably discharged recently on July 7. Lee and Corwin, apart from being neighbors, both had horses and volunteered at the White Rock Horse Rescue in Yucca Valley. Lee also has a wife, Nichole. The pair were planning to move back to their native Alaska shortly after his discharge.

Support for LAist comes from

In court documents, detectives say it was "highly likely" that Corwin was shot by an "unknown firearm" sometime after Corwin and Lee left. Because her phone was off, detectives say she would not have been able to call for help if she was injured and left behind, The Desert Sun reports.

Det. Corey Emom wrote about several pieces of new evidence in an affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for a cabin at the horse ranch where the Lees had been staying. The document says that text messages Corwin sent to a friend in Tennessee talked about the relationship between Corwin and Lee, and referred to the day trip. The texts said that the baby might even be Lee's and that Lee was worried his wife would find out about the affair and divorce him. Lee told detectives that while he did go hunting in Joshua Tree National Park the day Corwin disappeared, he was not with her. (Lee initially told detectives he hardly knew Corwin at all and hadn't spoken to her in two months, then later that they had only kissed and that his wife knew about it.)

Detectives also found tire tracks matching Lee's Jeep near Corwin's abandoned car and footsteps leading from the driver's side door of her car to the tracks, indicating she may have gotten into the second vehicle and never returned.

Lee was arrested July 4 following the search of the cabin on suspicion of having a destructive device. He posted bail and was released on July 6, but authorities just released news of his arrest on Monday. A search warrant indicates this device may have been a potato gun found in a car in front of the cabin. The cabin is owned by Isabel Megli, owner of the horse ranch, but the Lees had moved in temporarily on July 3 (a day before it was searched) before their move back to Alaska. Police had searched the Lees' previous residence on the base before searching the cabin.

During the cabin search, court documents also say that authorities took some things from Lee's truck (a utility knife, one latex glove, a .45 calibre magazine), and a rifle from a closet in Megli's place, though Megli said she has no idea how it got there.

But it gets weirder still. Megli also said Lee's wife has been saying some pretty bizarre things to her. Megli said that Nichole talked about how detectives don't have a case if they can't find a body and that they may have missed something in their home by not searching the garage. Megli also said she heard Nichole berating Lee about his inability to keep his lies straight when talking to detectives.

Teams continue to search the area for any sign of Corwin. A friend of Lee's said that he moved to Alaska last week.