Missing since July 27, 1996 from Death Valley, Inyo County, California
Classification: Endangered Missing
Circumstances of Disappearance
The disappearance of German architect Egbert Rimkus, his girlfriend Cornelia Meyer, his son Georg Weber, and Meyer's son Max Meyer, date of birth August 21, 1992, age 3, has baffled officials. The travelers had bought an informational booklet at the Furnace Creek Visitors Center. A cash register receipt from the center's store indicates it was purchased on July 22, 1996.
A day later, as temperatures climbed to 124 degrees, the tourists drove south and then west in their 1996 Plymouth Voyager van, heading toward Panamint Mountains.
Climbing from below sea level, the canyon road ascends to an abandoned mining camp at an elevation of about 2,500 feet. Egbert stopped at the camp and left an entry in the log book that is kept in a steel box atop a short metal post. In German, it read, "7-23-96. Conny Egbert Georg Max. We are going through the pass."
Rimkus probably was referring to Mengle Pass, located near 7,196-foot-high Manly Peak on the southwest border of Death Valley National Park. After stopping at the cabin, the minivan turned about a mile short of the pass and headed east along a sandy wash into remote Anvil Spring Canyon. Investigators familiar with the disappearance are puzzled why they would have chosen to travel into such an isolated area.
In Dresden, Germany, the families and friends of the four tourists had expected them to return home by July 29. But their reserved seats aboard a Transworld Airways flight were empty. When they did not arrive, Heike Weber -- Rimkus' former wife and Georg Weber's mother -- went to the travel agency that arranged the trip to find out what had happened to the German tourists. The agency then inquired if the minivan rented by Rimkus and Meyer in Los Angeles had been returned. It had not. Dollar Rent-a-Car in Los Angeles said the van was overdue. The rental agent said the minivan would be reported as stolen if it wasn't returned within 30 days. On September 10, a stolen vehicle report was filed by Dollar Rent-a-Car with Los Angeles police.
The last anyone in Germany had heard from them was a fax that Rimkus had sent from the Treasure Island Hotel in Las Vegas. In it he had asked Heike Weber to send money. On August 14, Interpol listed the four Germans as missing persons.
The vehicle they had traveled in was located on October 26, 1996 stuck in the wash at Anvil Spring Canyon. Its tires were buried deeply in the sand. Three were flat. There was no sign of the four German tourists. Few clues were discovered in or near the minivan. No tracks were found which could be related to the missing persons, no purse, passports, rental car contract, keys, wallet, money or airline tickets were found. Among items in the van were two Coleman sleeping bag boxes, along with a new Coleman sleeping bag, various pairs of shoes, and clean clothing for a woman, man and two children. There was also a 12-pack carton of Bud Ice beer, two unopened bottles of beer, empty one-gallon bottles of water and apple cider and a Swiss cheese wrapper. A camera, numerous rolls of exposed 35-mm film and a portable CD player also were found, along with an American flag, which had been taken from a stone cabin in Butte Valley, five miles away. A beer bottle was found a half-mile away that matched bottles in the vehicle, other than these clues, nothing else conclusive was found.
The official search for the missing tourists was called off on October 26, but subsequent efforts to learn the fate of the missing tourists continued for years, conducted by private parties and search-and-rescue groups.
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Inyo County Sheriff's Office
Agency Case Number: 96-10109
NCIC Number: M-979900435
The Daily Bulletin
Las Vegas Sun 12/18/96
Access My Library 7/23/06
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