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Some case clarifications from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office

5/06/2016 Update

I’ve been fortunate enough to have developed a contact at the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office (RSO) with access to Ewasko’s file there. This has resulted in a few clarifications and expansion of some of the known facts of the case.

There is no detailed cell phone info in Ewasko’s file beyond what we already know and I’ve posted. If any such data ever did exist, it’s long gone.

There is no video of Ewasko in a Joshua Tree market buying two water bottles. It didn’t happen. RSO investigated and contacted the reporter who wrote the anniversary article where this was mentioned. It appears to be a misunderstanding on the reporter’s part after he spoke with Mary Winston concerning Ewasko’s activities. There WAS video of Ewasko buying supplies the night before he left on his hike at a Vons in Palm Desert (which RSO obtained) and confusion over this resulted in the reporter writing something that wasn’t accurate.

And speaking of Ewasko’s supply run, that leads to the most interesting item. The JTNP narrative mentions that at around 7:30 PM on Monday June 28, 2010, Investigator Martinez brought the cellular ping data to the SAR command post. The JTNP narrative then goes on to state:

“Detective Martinez also informed us that EWASKO may have been possession of three Safeway brand water bottles, cereal bars, bananas, and apples. Lastly, EWASKO had salami packaging and snacks.”

Most of this was based upon the video RSO had and a receipt they found. I have always been curious about just how large the water bottles were so I asked for more details.

It turns out Ewasko bought a 24 bottle case of water. The case was found in the condo he was staying at with 11 bottles missing. When the CHP towed his car from the Juniper Flats trailhead they did an inventory of contents and recorded 9 bottles of Safeway water in an ice chest. So only two bottles were unaccounted for and those were presumed to have been carried by Ewasko. Not three, as stated in the narrative, so there was either some error in the math or somebody just made a mistake when writing the narrative.

Since RSO has an itemized receipt, I enquired if there was any indication of a large juice container in the purchase. I always wondered about the half gallon plastic container I came across on the upper southerly slopes of Smith Water Canyon during JT42. The receipt had a listing for a bottle of V8 juice, but no size given, although its price of $3.49 suggests a large bottle. However when looking at pictures online of V8 bottles, none looked remotely like what I found on JT42. That thing still looks like an apple juice bottle to me. In any case, there’s no further info on if the purchased bottle was ever found in the condo so it’s not inconceivable Ewasko took it with him (Hiking with V8? Blech!).

So it appears likely only two bottles of water, not three. And on top of that they were only 12 ounce bottles! He apparently had less than a liter of water with him when he began his hike.

This dangerously modest water supply leads to a couple of implications. First, it seems unlikely he visited the Lost Horse area prior, since he would have burned through a couple bottles just on something small like that and not leave nine bottles in his car when starting a much more ambitious hike. This behavior is more consistent with an individual just getting out of an air conditioned car for the first time and heading off.

Secondly, with less than a liter of water Ewasko would likely fall into a dire condition sooner rather than later and the limits as to where he could have ranged would be tighter.