Death Valley Germans

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The Death Valley Germans (as dubbed by the media) were a family of four German tourists who went missing in Death Valley National Park on July 23, 1996.[1] After an intense search and rescue operation no trace of the family was discovered and the search was called off. In 2009 the presumed remains of the adult members of the family were discovered by hikers who were searching for evidence of the fate of the tourists, and conclusive proof of the fate of the male adult was later established.[2] A viable theory for what happened is documented by Tom Mahood, who helped find the tourists' remains.[3][4]


The family consisted of 34-year-old German architect Egbert Rimkus, his eleven-year-old son Georg Weber, Egbert's 27-year-old girlfriend Cornelia Meyer and her four-year-old son Max Meyer,[5][6] all of whom were from Dresden. The group had arrived in the United States in early July, originally arriving in Los Angeles before visiting Las Vegas where they stayed at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino.[7]

Wanting more adventure on their vacation, the family traveled to Death Valley on July 22 where they bought a booklet from the Furnace Creek Visitors Center and spent their first night camping out in a canyon near Telescope Peak. The next day the group continued to travel to various visitor sites, with Cornelia signing the names of all the family members on a visitors' log at an abandoned mining camp[2] and stopping at the geologists' cabin in Warm Springs Canyon.

Disappearance and search[edit]

The family had booked airplane seats to return to Germany on July 29 but never arrived.[8] Rimkus' ex-wife Heike Weber became concerned when her ex-husband and son did not return from their vacation and she began to inquire about their whereabouts.[9] On July 31 the German travel agency that arranged the vacation contacted the rental car agency the family had used. After the travel agency failed to establish the families whereabouts it reported the family missing to Interpol.

On October 21, the family's green Plymouth Voyager rental car was discovered in an extremely remote part of the park known as Anvil Canyon by a helicopter search pilot.[10] Subsequent inspection found the car had been driven for at least two hundred miles and three of the tires were flat.[7] Over 200 search and rescue workers performed an extensive search of the area near the car. The search failed to yield any clues to the whereabouts of the family except for a single beer bottle that was discovered under a bush over a mile away from the stranded car.[5]

On October 26, authorities called off the search for the missing tourists.[11]

Discovery of remains[edit]

On November 12, 2009, Les Walker and Tom Mahood, two hikers who were off-duty search and rescuers, searching for traces of the family,[12] discovered the skeletal remains of two adults, one male and one female with identification belonging to the missing tourists near the bodies.[2] Although DNA was recovered only from the bones of Rimkus[13][14] authorities claimed they were fairly certain that the bones belonged to the missing Germans.[6] The remains of the children were never officially discovered although a shoe, possibly from one of the children, was found.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Times, Robin Flinchum Special to the Pahrump Valley (2016-07-22). "Interest continues in 20-year Death Valley mystery". PV Times. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  2. ^ a b c "Remains May Be Tourists Missing 13 Years". Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  3. ^ "The Hunt for the Death Valley Germans". Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  4. ^ Penner, Jay (11 September 2016). "The Hunt for The Death Valley Germans — companion reading". Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  5. ^ a b Writer, Occasional (2016-09-11). "The Hunt for The Death Valley Germans — companion reading". Medium. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  6. ^ a b "Death Valley skeletons solve riddle of missing German tourists". 2009-11-14. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  7. ^ a b "15 Things You Didn't Know About Death Valley". TheRichest. 2017-01-11. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  8. ^ Good, Meaghan Elizabeth. "The Charley Project: Cornelia Meyer". Retrieved 2017-09-22.[dead link]
  9. ^ Times, Robin Flinchum Special to the Pahrump Valley (2016-07-20). "Twentieth anniversary of one of Death Valley's baffling mysteries". PV Times. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  10. ^ Times, Special To The (1996-10-25). "Van of Missing German Tourists Found in Death Valley Park". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  11. ^ GORMAN, TOM (1996-10-31). "Search Ends for 4 Missing German Tourists". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  12. ^ RiderDownFoundation. "Les Walker Tom Mahood Solve 13 year old missing german Death Valley Mystery". Retrieved 3 February 2019 – via YouTube.
  13. ^ Watanabe, Teresa (2009-11-14). "CALIFORNIA : Bones may solve mystery : Death Valley hikers find what may be tourists' remains". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-09-22.
  14. ^ "Egbert Rimkus - The Charley Project". Retrieved 2018-10-17.
  15. ^ "Children Still Missing in 1996 German Tourist Case - Sierra Wave: Eastern Sierra News". Archived from the original on 2016-01-09. Retrieved 2017-09-22.