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Erin Corwin murder may be a death penalty case, Chris Lee's Internet searches

There was a day and age where getting away with murder was a little easier than it might be in the twenty-first century. Today, investigators seeking evidence for culpability can use data from technology those accused may have used in their day to day life in order to track information about the accused, and also to determine the mindset of those facing serious charges. The Toronto Relationships Examiner reported last week on the tragic demise of missing horse whisperer Erin Corwin, and on the arrest of her neighbor and alleged lover Christopher Lee. People Magazine has reported on Aug. 23 that Internet searches of the accused may play a role in his charges, after investigators discovered that Christopher Lee performed Internet searches on "how to dispose of a human body."

Update on murder of Erin Corwin, Christopher Lee eligible for death penalty
Update on murder of Erin Corwin, Christopher Lee eligible for death penaltyCorwin via Facebook

This information is only one part of the stack of evidence currently piling against Christopher Lee. People Magazine is also reporting that in addition to these disturbing internet searches, evidence found at the scene where Erin Corwin was found has connected Christopher Lee to the murder of Erin Corwin and placed him at the scene.

Erin Corwin was the missing horse whisperer out of San Bernardino, California. On June 28, very early in the morning, she told her husband Jonathan Corwin that she was going for a hike at Joshua Tree National Park. In texts to a friend, she reportedly stated that she was going to the park with the neighbor she was allegedly having an affair with, so that they could celebrate a pregnancy.

Erin Corwin was not seen again until her body was found at the bottom of a 140 foot mine shaft just outside Joshua Tree National Park. People Magazine has reported on Aug. 23 that the man accused and charged with her murder is the man she was going to the park with to celebrate her pregnancy.

People Magazine is also reporting that this same man has been found to perform Internet searches on the keywords "how to dispose of a human body" according to the latest arrest warrants. In addition to this evidence currently against Christopher Lee, it has been discovered that .22 caliber casings were found at the scene where Erin was found.

Rebar was also found at the scene with Erin, and it has been reported that this rebar in addition to the .22 casings that were recovered match those found at the home and in the Jeep of Christopher Lee. The Toronto Relationships Examiner previously reported that the initial search warrants executed on the home and vehicle of Christopher Lee had recovered .22 casings in his Jeep. The firearm to match those casings was not recovered in the initial search.

This Examiner additionally reported that the wife of the accused, Nichole Lee, also made statements to a witness during the early days of the search for Erin Corwin, that "they would never find the body."

Is that because Nichole already knew that Erin was at the bottom of a 125 foot mine shaft?

Nichole Lee is not facing any charges at this time, though People Magazine is reporting that the San Bernardino Police are hoping to interview her shortly.

People Magazine is also reporting that one murder charge may not be the only charge Nichole's husband may face. Pending results of an autopsy to confirm or deny an alleged pregnancy, an additional murder charge may be applied. People reports the autopsy of Erin Corwin will not be complete for at least four to six weeks.

On the matter of a possible second murder charge, Michael Ramos San Bernardino District Attorney states,

"There's still an ongoing investigation to determine if she was pregnant at the time of the murder. If we find that to be true and the fetus was far enough along, there could be another kind of murder charge filed."

Shortly after the disappearance of Erin Corwin, her neighbor and alleged lover Christopher Lee and his wife moved to Alaska. People reports that Chris Lee had told detectives early in the case that his alibi involved "collecting tires" on the morning that Erin disappeared. In addition to the .22 casings and rebar found at the scene with Erin, tires were also recovered from the mine shaft with her body.

It has also been discovered that the Internet may have been used by the accused to find a way to dispose her body without being discovered. The keywords "how to dispose of a human body" were reportedly discovered on a device Christopher Lee used. But this is not the only search Chris Lee allegedly performed when attempting to find a way to cover his tracks. A witness who wishes to remain unidentified has come forward stating that they were also asked by Christopher Lee for advice on "the best way to dispose of a human body."

Christopher Lee is currently detained in Alaska where he awaits extradition and is being held on $2 million dollar bond. His charge is first degree murder, and holds a "special circumstance" known as "lying in wait." Given the nature of the case and the evidence against him, these charges also make Christopher Lee eligible for the death penalty according to the CBS 8.

The Desert Sun has also reported that the initial autopsy report on Erin Corwin has ruled her death as a homicide, although her cause of death has not been released and will not be until a more detailed autopsy is complete. A more detailed autopsy is now being conducted to further determine if Erin was indeed pregnant at the time of her death, and also to determine how far along she may have been if this is confirmed.

These results should be available within four to six weeks, and investigators have stated they are still "a couple of months away" from determining if this will be a death penalty case. The family of Erin Corwin is eagerly awaiting for the end of this part of the investigation, so that she can return home and be laid to rest.

In the meantime, friends and family of Erin Corwin have launched an online petition for what they hope will become the Erin Corwin Project. In the 2013 video shown here, a group of off roading explorers took a trip to the Rose of Peru Mine to investigate the mine in an adventure that is completely unrelated to the disappearance of Erin Corwin.

The video however recounts what must have been the last horrific moments of Erin's life, if she was still alive before she made the trip to this mine. Viewers watching this video will see that with a look down a mine there is nothing but a large black hole. At the bottom of the hole found in this video is where Erin was found.

The group that has launched the Erin Corwin Project are hoping that mines like this can be closed for safety purposes. An online petition has been launched to assist them in these efforts. A statement from the organizers of the Erin Corwin Project with this petition reads,

"In light of the recent discovery of the unfortunate finding of the missing pregnant United States Marine Corps' wife, Erin Corwin's, deceased body disposed of in the Rose of Peru Mine located just outside of Joshua Tree National Park in the Old Dale Mining District, Mojave Desert, California, on federal land, we come together to petition and ask The Bureau of Land Management to provide the funding and means to close off old abandoned vertical mine shafts starting with the Rose of Peru mine in honor of Erin Corwin.

We do understand this is a huge undertaking and some more public areas have been closed off, but we are asking that a priority be made maybe starting with the deepest vertical mines no matter their location or accessibility in order to prevent another family suffering this tragedy.

Vertical mine shafts are nothing but highly dangerous for any and all persons including rescuers and it's time closure becomes a top priority. We are asking our government to step up and provide the funding necessary for this project for the safety of all citizens.

We will call this project the "Erin Corwin Project" in honor of her memory. Thank you so very much in advance for signing this petition, sharing this petition, spreading the word, and doing your part to contribute."

Another issue regarding the expediency of justice for Erin is in relation to the location of where her body was found, and also in relation to the nature of the accused's military status. Because Erin's body was found in the Rose of Peru Mine, which is located on federally owned property, questions of jurisdiction have arisen in this case. As well, because Christopher Lee was a member of the military at the time of her disappearance, this poses another matter of jurisdiction.

The Desert Sun spoke with a professor with USC School Of Law, Rebecca Lonergan, on these matters of jurisdiction. Rebecca Lonergan stated that jurisdiction would fall to the agency with the most expertise in this matter. She said that because this was a "love triangle" it would likely not be a matter familiar to the military courts, that the district courts and local prosecutors would have more expertise in this matter.

Rebecca Lonergan who has also worked in both state and federal prosecution cases, also stated that because Lee had been dishonourably discharged from the military at the time Erin was found, it would likely not be a matter that would fall on the military court martial. On the matter of the jurisdiction issue, Lonergan told the Desert Sun,

"What you have here is what we call concurrent jurisdiction. It could go stateside, federal, or court martial. It's rare though that the government would jump in to prosecute. Since [Christopher Lee] had been discharged before the body was found, it's not usually military.

The military does have the ability to involuntarily reinstate him and court-martial him..and reinstatement has happened…but it's got to be something where the military really wants jurisdiction."

Lonergan also told the Desert Sun that the Marine Corps does not prosecute many murders and thus would not have the expertise on this case that local prosecutors would. She stated that,

"When you've got three prosecuting agencies, two will step aside to let the expert go to work."

The family of the beloved Erin Corwin eagerly awaits her return home so they can continue their journey of peace and healing. It is likely good news for the family that these charges may make Christopher Lee eligible for the death penalty. While seeking justice for Erin Corwin, the Erin Corwin Project moves forward in the hope that some good will come out of this horrific tragedy through the closure of dangerous federal mines.

In the meantime, the public can not help but wonder whether or not Christopher Lee's wife, Nichole Lee, will be charged in this case. After learning of the statement, "they will never find the body," many find it difficult to believe that Nicole had nothing to do with this crime.

Do you think Nicole Lee knew that Erin was at the bottom of the mine shaft when she made that statement? Do you believe that Christopher Lee should get the death penalty?