Hello, my loyal true crime readers and listeners. There is an update in this case! On June 28, 2020 three men were arrested on suspicion of killing Audrey Moran and Jonathan Reynoso. Authorities identified the men as Jesus Ruiz Jr., 41, of Stockton, Manuel Rios, 28, of Coachella, and Abraham Fregoso, 32, of Indio.
The police have yet to explain how they connected these men to the disappearance of the young couple or why they think they were killed. All they are saying right now is that they obtained information that “led to the arrest of three suspects in connection with the murders.”
Case File Overview
Audrey Moran, 26, and her boyfriend Jonathan Roynoso, 28, disappeared from California on the evening of May 10th, 2017. When Audrey left her sister’s home that evening, she told her sister that she was leaving Coachella and travelling to the town of Brawley, roughly an hour-and-fifteen-minute drive away, to pick up Jonathan and take him to his home in Palm Desert.
After several calls went unanswered, Audrey’s family reported her missing early on May 11th.
On May 12th, the police located Audrey’s vehicle by using OnStar to determine its location. The 2010 GMC Terrain SUV was found abandoned on the shoulder of the westbound lanes of Interstate 10 on the Oak Valley Parkway in Beaumont.
Audrey’s abandoned SUV
The location of the vehicle was approximately an hour drive northwest of Coachella and Palm Desert. There was no sign of the couple, and by all reports the SUV had nearly a full tank of gas and seemed to be in perfect working condition. Forensic crime scene investigators did not discover any obvious signs of foul play in the vehicle or at the scene.
Audrey and Jonathan remain missing.
Case File Theories
Left to start a new life together
When Audrey and Jonathan first disappeared, some people thought that the couple decided to run off together. However, as the months passed and there was no activity on their cell phones, bank accounts, or social media accounts, this theory became less and less likely. In fact, although Audrey and Jonathan were once considered “voluntary missing adults,” now the police contend that “it’s likely they did not voluntarily disappear,” especially considering the close relationship they both had with their families. The couple is now classified “missing under suspicious circumstances.” Sergeant Walt Mendez of the Riverside County Sheriff Department’s Central Homicide Unit recently stated, “They wouldn’t walk away from them; they have family who loves them. We haven’t uncovered any reasons they would voluntarily leave their loved ones.”
Although I hope the couple is living it up together somewhere on the beaches of Mexico, I think that this is extremely improbable. There appears to be no reason why Audrey and Jonathan would just abandon their lives and loved ones. Why would Audrey and Jonathan run off to be with each other when they had only been dating a short time and were already enjoying their relationship together? It just does not make much sense to me.
Unfortunately, I think that it is probable that the couple has met with foul play. The reason for this conclusion stems from the details explored below.
The police dogs
Police dogs have been said to have tracked one or both of the couple’s scents around Audrey’s SUV. However, the trail ended only twenty yards west of the vehicle’s location.
Some reports indicate that only Jonathan’s scent was tracked, while others state that the scent of both Audrey and Jonathan were found and followed. It is unfortunate that the authorities do not clear up the confusion surrounding this aspect of the case; if only one scent was located, it could indicate that one member of the couple may have harmed the other and then decided to disappear. Or, of course, it could also just mean that the police dogs only happened to pick up one scent. By all accounts, the couple was happy; there seems to be no history of abuse or violence in the relationship; therefore, I am not ready to blame one of them for the other’s disappearance.
If Audrey and Jonathan were both in her vehicle when it was abandoned, I have lots of questions. Were they forced over to the side of the road and out of the SUV? Who would they voluntarily pull over for? The police? A friend? A stranger in supposed distress? Did they get into another vehicle by their own free will? Was Audrey’s car ditched on the side of the road by someone involved in their disappearance? Working towards answering these questions, as I am sure the police are actively doing, will no doubt assist with locating the couple.
The Brawley trip
Did Jonathan or Audrey ever really travel to Brawley? Multiple pieces of evidence seem to suggest that they did not.
On the evening of the 10th, Audrey’s sister was texted an old photo of Audrey and Jonathan from Audrey’s phone. Although it was first assumed the couple was together at the time the photo was sent, this was never officially confirmed. The picture texted to Audrey’s sister could have been a ruse to suggest that Jonathan had been picked up and that the couple was together. Was this picture sent by someone using Audrey’s phone to mislead her family and delay any police investigation into the couple’s disappearance?
A pizza box was found at Jonathan’s house in Palm Desert, and it was later determined that Jonathan ordered pizza at 5:44PM on the evening of May 10th, when he was supposedly visiting friends in Brawley. Given how long it would take for the pizza to be delivered and eaten, it seems impossible that Jonathan had the time to make the one-and-a-half-hour trip from his home to Brawley to supposedly be picked up by Audrey. Did Jonathan meet his friends in Brawley? Did he ever ask Audrey to pick him up? Have his friends in Brawley been questioned and cleared of any involvement?
Audrey’s SUV was located nowhere near the route she would have taken to get Jonathan from Brawley. Even more, although Audrey was apparently getting Jonathan from Brawley and then taking him to his Palm Desert home, the police determined that both of their cellphones only pinged inside of the Indio and Coachella areas the night they vanished. This further calls into question if Audrey ever headed out to pick Jonathan up, or if he was ever even in Brawley. Why would she lie to her sister about picking him up? Why would Jonathan lie about being in Brawley? I am left with more questions than answers.
The torched car
Multiple media sources and the Riverside Sheriff’s Department have hinted at a link between the torching of a car in Thermal, a small unincorporated community in the Coachella Valley, and the disappearance of Audrey and Jonathan. Sources have suggested that Audrey and Jonathan were not dating exclusively, as it was still early in their relationship. It has been reported that an unnamed man who had also been dating Audrey at the time of her disappearance torched his car after reporting it missing. As a result, a search warrant was issued for his home. Was this unnamed man involved in the couple’s disappearance? The police have yet to release what if anything was found during their search. However, what could merely be actions perpetrated during an “innocent” insurance fraud seem to be, at least in my opinion, highly suspicious behaviour.
What do you think happened to Audrey and Jonathan?
The families of Audrey and Jonathan have rallied friends and supporters and remain vigilante in their search for their loved ones. Through fundraising, a $10,000 reward has been raised for information that leads to the couple’s safe return.
The Riverside Sheriff’s Department is asking anyone with new information regarding the whereabouts of Audrey and Jonathan to please contact the homicide tip line at (760)-393-3544.
Related Listening and Reading
The Disappearance of Jonathan Reynoso and Audrey Moran – Killafornia Dreaming podcast episode
California Couple Jonathan Reynoso and Audrey Moran Missing Six Weeks – NBC News article
A Couple Disappeared Eight Months Ago and Their Absence Isn’t Voluntary, Investigators Say – The Desert Sun article