I have a best friend who lives in the Mojave Desert near Death Valley. We grew up together and I remember her tales of the fun she and her high school friends had roaming the old gold mine trails, the mountains and the vast expanse of nothing. It takes a tough soul to live there and she is definitely a tough soul. The days of gold mining and borax are long gone, but the area dotted with little towns is still home to families with a strong tie to the harshness and the beauty of the Mojave.
The Mojave is a place that hides many things, remember Charlie Manson and his "family" hid out there for quite some time. It also hides the answers for two little girls and their grandmother who have been searching in mine shafts, behind rocks and under bushes since June 28, 2004.
April Pitzer was preparing to go home again. After a separation from her husband and her family which brought her to the tiny town of Newberry Springs, California, she realized that it wasn't the place she needed to be and arranged to go back to Arkansas to be with her mother. Gloria Denton was anticipating April's return, knowing that the life she was eking out in Newberry Springs was not the life that she was hoping she would find.
The day before April was planning to leave California she talked to her mother several times. Gloria was moving from Texas to Arkansas and taking the last load that day. Not able to be near phones, she tried to reach April for a couple days, calling people April had known in Newberry Springs. When she received a phone call from a man that April knew, asking how she liked having April back with her, Gloria knew something wasn't right. She immediately notified authorities and registered a missing persons report.
Being so far away and only able to make phone calls, she started where most families of a missing person start, calling hospitals and morgues. It was one of these phone calls that brought her to David Van Norman, the coroner for San Bernadino County, and known to many families of the missing as being an angel sent from God. With his help and a detective they were able to determine that there was a possibility that April could have been murdered and dumped into one of the thousands of abandoned mines in the Mojave.
The detective took a team and cadaver dogs to a particular mine that rumors around town said the man who April knew had connections with. During that search, the dogs from a couple search teams all laid down close to the air shaft of a certain mine, indicating the presence of human remains. However, several days later they returned to the same mine and none of the dogs hit again, indicating the possibility that the remains were moved.
Not able to idly sit by any longer, Gloria Denton took off to California to find her daughter, April. While searching in another mine site they found the clothes that Gloria had recently sent to April strewn about, buried, and some burned. It was a poor attempt to cover up evidence. They also found in a desert shack more clothes, duct tape, gauze and iodine, possibly an attempt to "patch" April up. There has been blood found on a sheet and mattress.
The man that April knew, and could be a part of the mystery surrounding her vanishing, has since died. There is another man who some think holds the answers and he is currently in prison on other charges. Authorities say that without a body they really don't have enough circumstantial evidence to file charges against him. So the question of April's whereabouts has yet to be answered.
No mother should have to search for her child like this and no mother should ever have to find evidence of the possibility of her child's demise. April Pitzer has not been found and brought home to her mother and her two little girls. There will be more searches, and until the day that April is found, Gloria Denton will not give up searching for her.
April was last seen in the vicinity of the 30000 block of Caspian Way in Newberry Springs, CA. She indicated she was going to travel to Arkansas to see her mother but never arrived. As of November of 2006, April's case was updated from a missing case to a missing/homicide case.
If you have information regarding the case of April Beth Pitzer, please contact:
San Bernardino Sheriff's Department at 1-760-256-4838 or the Free "No Cops" Tip Line at 1-866-479-LBTH
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