A call for a wellness check led the authorities in Southern California to make a gruesome discovery this week: They found six bodies at a remote crossroads in the Mojave Desert.

Deputies with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department found most of the bodies around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday in an isolated area off Highway 395 outside of El Mirage, about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. A sixth body was discovered early Wednesday morning, Mara Rodriguez, a Sheriff’s Department spokewoman, said at a news conference.

The spot where the bodies were found is so isolated, Ms. Rodriguez said, that the Sheriff’s Department sought help from the California Highway Patrol’s Aviation Division.

Aerial footage shared by television news crews shows an area dotted with bushes and evidence markers near the scene. Video captured by TV news had blurred out parts of the video because of graphic images.

Neither the ages nor the sexes of the people whose bodies were found was immediately known, Ms. Rodriguez said. The cause and manner of death were also still under investigation, and it was unclear how long the people had been dead.

Detectives did not release information about the call for the wellness check that had led them to the bodies, nor have they said what condition the bodies were found in.

“I don’t have enough info even to speculate,” said Gloria Huerta, another Sheriff’s Department spokesperson.

Members of the Sheriff Department’s Special Investigations Division are assisting with the case.

Asked whether bodies had been found in the desert before, Ms. Huerta said: “I know that we’ve had cases before just because we have a large desert area. To this magnitude, I can’t remember.

“I’ve been with the department for 25 years, and I haven’t seen that,” she continued. “But it is a pretty large, desolate desert area. There’s no buildings, that I saw. No businesses or anything like that. So, that’s the best I could describe it. It’s just an open area.”

As of late Wednesday afternoon, the bodies had not yet been moved from the scene, according to Ms. Huerta.

“We’re doing the best we can to get through the evidence collected and get it processed, and, you know, hopefully, come to a conclusion on this case,” she said.


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