Thursday, February 29, 2024

Williamsburg couple goes missing on road trip through California; car, man’s remains found

A search for a missing Williamsburg couple on vacation in California is underway at Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark. (WYDaily/Courtesy San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department)
A search for a missing Williamsburg couple on vacation in California is underway at Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark. (WYDaily/Courtesy San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department)

A search for a missing Williamsburg couple on vacation is underway after crews found male remains and the couple’s abandoned vehicle at Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark in San Bernardino County, California.

One person is still missing, and the identity of the male remains has not been confirmed.

Susan Schmierer, 65, and William Schmierer, 64, left their home in Virginia on a cross-country vacation May 27 and were scheduled to arrive June 2 in Palm Springs, California, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said in a news release.

On June 13, the sheriff’s department received a report from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management about a vehicle that had been parked at the Amboy Crater trailhead for about 10 days and appeared to be abandoned.

Bureau rangers investigated the scene and requested help from the sheriff’s department, which provided aviation crews for an extensive search of the area.

The aviation search, however, did not locate the Schmierers.

On the first search day, June 13, the sheriff’s office also released two photographs of the couple. In one, William Schmierer wears a William & Mary baseball cap. A William & Mary donation page lists the Schmierers as a donor.

Three days later, the sheriff’s department again searched the area with deputies, a helicopter, a team of search and rescue volunteers, and a trained search dog.

A search for a missing Williamsburg couple on vacation in California is underway at Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark. (WYDaily/Courtesy of San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department)
A search for a missing Williamsburg couple on vacation in California is underway at Amboy Crater National Natural Landmark. (WYDaily/Courtesy San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department)

The search crew found the remains of a male matching the description of William Schmierer, but positive identification of the body is pending confirmation from the coroner.

The cause of death is unknown and pending an autopsy, the sheriff’s department said.

Susan Schmierer has not been found, the release said.

The sheriff’s department will conduct another  search in the Amboy Crater area this weekend. Temperatures are predicted to rise in the area in the coming days, and there is no cellphone service in the desert area, the release said.

The couple have been “engaged and valued members” of the William & Mary community, college spokeswoman Erin Zagursky said. They are parents of two alumni, and William Schmierer was a member of the Swem Board from 2014 to 2016. Both have volunteered with Special Collections.

Susan Schmierer also worked part time in undergraduate admission during the 2010 to 2017 application seasons, Zagursky said.

Anyone with information related to the investigation should contact the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Morongo Basin Station at 760-366-4175. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous may contact We-Tip at 1-888-78-CRIME.

Note: This story has been updated with additional information from William & Mary spokeswoman Erin Zagursky.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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