Thursday, December 18, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Body of Marine’s missing wife found in mine shaft

By
August 20, 2014 |

SAN BERNARDINO — For nearly two months, Southern California sheriff’s deputies and a legion of volunteers scoured the vast, rough terrain peppered with abandoned mine pits and deep bodies of water where the 19-year-old pregnant wife of a U.S. Marine disappeared.

The search finally ended Saturday when a body was spotted with a video camera 140 feet down a mine shaft on federal land near Twentynine Palms, where she had been living.

In a little more than 24 hours, authorities had recovered and identified the remains of Erin Corwin and arrested her former neighbor and alleged lover, 24-year-old former Marine Christopher Brandon Lee, in Anchorage, Alaska, on suspicion of homicide.

“The manner of death has been determined to be homicide,” San Bernardino County Sheriff John McMahon said Monday, adding that deputies searched many of the 100 mine shafts in a 300 square mile area before zeroing in on the one that contained Corwin.

Corwin, whose husband was stationed in Southern California, was in the early stages of pregnancy when she disappeared on June 28, according to court papers. Her husband, Marine Cpl. Jonathan Corwin, reported her missing the next day.

The investigation grew to focus on Lee, who was the Corwins’ neighbor, according to court papers.

Erin Corwin’s friend told investigators that Corwin and Lee were having an affair and that the unborn child might be Lee’s, the papers show. Corwin told the friend, who lives in Tennessee, that Lee was worried his wife might divorce him and prevent him from spending time with his child if she knew Corwin was pregnant, the affidavit says.

Corwin told her husband when she left that day that she was going to scout out hiking trails in Joshua Tree National Park that she and her mother could explore when her mother visited a few days later. But the friend showed authorities text messages that said Corwin was planning to go on a special hunting trip with Lee the day she disappeared.

“It is highly likely that Erin could have been harmed by an unknown firearm,” investigators wrote in the documents. “Sometime after Erin left with Lee, her phone was deactivated (turned off). Detectives believe if Erin was injured and left at an undisclosed location, she would not (be) able to call for help.”

Two days after Corwin disappeared, investigators found her car abandoned off a road near her home. A single set of footprints led from the driver’s side door and disappeared next to a set of vehicle tracks that matched the tires on Lee’s Jeep. They found 10 spent casings from a .40-caliber gun in the Jeep, the court papers say.

Other evidence was found in the shaft — one of more than 100 in the area — but sheriff’s officials declined to give details.

Authorities also declined to release the exact manner of death and said they could not confirm Corwin’s pregnancy until an autopsy was completed.

Corwin would have been 20 if alive, but authorities say she likely died before her birthday.

Lee told investigators he was not with Corwin that day and had been hunting in Joshua National Park. He told police that although the two had kissed, they had never had intercourse.

The investigation found that Lee and Corwin did have an “intimate relationship” dating back to at least February, San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Sgt. Trevis Newport said.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Lee, who has yet to make a court appearance or arrive in California, had retained an attorney.

“Let’s just wait until the facts come out before jumping to conclusions,” Bob Lee, Christopher’s father, told an Associated Press reporter during a brief interview outside the family’s home in a working class neighborhood in Anchorage. He said the arrest came as his son and daughter-in-law, Nichole Lee, were returning home.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos said he expected to charge Lee with murder, but charges have not yet been filed.

Lee was arrested in July on suspicion of possessing a destructive device after a search warrant on a Yucca Valley home where he was temporarily living. He was taken into custody after the July 4 search and released on bail two days later.

He was honorably discharged after seven years in the Marine Corps and subsequently moved his family to Alaska.

Corwin and her husband are from Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Law enforcement agencies including the FBI helped search for Corwin, whose body wasn’t recovered until Sunday due to poor air quality conditions in the shaft. One firefighter was injured in the recovery effort, San Bernardino County Fire Chief Mark Hartwig said.

Corwin was found in a remote area some 130 miles east of Los Angeles, Newport said.

“It is very rough terrain out there. One would have a difficult time, even in a four-wheel drive vehicle,” he said.

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Articles

  • Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email.

  • .

    Solano News

    Solano College trustees move back ‘home’

    By Susan Winlow | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Needs of small dog give Solano man life’s mission

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

     
    Christmas comes early for prenatal program participants

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2 | Gallery

    Police chief: Suisun crime up 3 percent in 2014

    By Ian Thompson | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Council OKs $65,730 pact to advocate for Travis base

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

     
    Fairfield pays $42,500 to settle soil suit

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

    Jury convicts teen for role in 2012 DeBartolo’s heist

    By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Cellphone theft in Fairfield prompts police search

    By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

    Police arrest Vacaville man after alleged attack on business owner

    By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4 | Gallery

     
     
    Suisun City police log: Dec. 16, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

    Suisun City police log: Dec. 15, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

     
    Fairfield police log: Dec. 16, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

    Fairfield police log: Dec. 15, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

     
    .

    US / World

    Like Iran, secret diplomacy leads to US-Cuba thaw

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Pope played crucial role in US-Cuba rapprochement

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    US travel industry carefully eyeing Cuba tourism

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    US-Cuba thaw could benefit farmers, energy and travel firms

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    Cubans cheer historic renewal of US relations

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

     
    Freed American endured years of declining health

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

    US, Cuba patch torn relations in historic accord

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Fears fanned by hackers bring down Sony film

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

     
    Bay Bridge light sculpture to keep on shining

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Study: Huge wildfire supports need for controlled burns

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    A fresh setback for efforts to cure HIV infection

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    14 charged in deadly 2012 meningitis outbreak

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

     
    Study: Alcatraz inmates could have survived escape

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

    Nigerian court sentences 54 soldiers to death

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

     
    Colombian rebels announce unilateral cease-fire

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Russians flock to stores to pre-empt price rises

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

     
    Pakistan buries victims of school massacre

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

    .

    Opinion

    Editorial Cartoons: Dec. 18, 2014

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

     
    Crime Witness Protocol 101

    By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A7

     
    Asia needs to prepare for a possible China crash

    By William Pesek | From Page: A7

    Tortured roots of enhanced interrogations

    By Walter Pincus | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Living

    Today in History: Dec. 18, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Community Calendar: Dec. 18, 2014

    By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

    Horoscopes: Dec. 18, 2014

    By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

     
    My siblings don’t want to replace abusive mother’s pacemaker

    By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

    .

    Entertainment

    25 movies chosen for the National Film Registry

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

     
    Saving Private Ryan’ among films being preserved

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

    TVGrid

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

     
    .

    Sports

    Falcons cruise by crushers in girls basketball

    By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    49ers release McDonald amid further legal trouble

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Carr faces another tough test in rookie season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

     
    For MLB, changes in Cuba will take time to sort out

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

    Chattanooga women stun No. 7 Stanford 54-46

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Track coach Drummond gets 8-year doping suspension

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Warriors’ Bogut out with knee injury vs. Thunder

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    AP source: Romo close to $15M, 2-year deal with Giants

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Baseball monitoring White House Cuba decision

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    APNewsBreak: Judge rejects NCAA concussions deal

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Painkillers lawsuit against NFL dismissed; may be appealed

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

     
    Garcia resigns as FIFA prosecutor

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    This date in sports history for Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    .

    Business

    McDonald’s in Japan limits orders of fries

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Amid scrutiny, Uber says it will focus more on safety

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    Health care exchange sign-ups exceeding last year

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Fed to be ‘patient’ about a rate hike; stocks soar

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

    .

    Obituaries

    Patricia “Pat” Anne Stringfield-Pierre

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Marian L. “Chicki” Downs

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    Ernest “Ernie” Moretti

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

     
    Jennie Ponce Reyes

    By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics

    Sally Forth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Garfield

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Peanuts

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Dilbert

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Get Fuzzy

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    For Better or Worse

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    B.C.

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Rose is Rose

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Blondie

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Pickles

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Baldo

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Baby Blues

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Wizard of Id

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Beetle Bailey

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Frank and Ernest

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

     
    Zits

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

    Cryptoquote

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Sudoku

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Bridge

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

     
    Word Sleuth

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

    Crossword

    By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9