Amanda Nenigar, the Californian who called for help from the desert, is found dead

A 27-year-old woman who disappeared more than a month ago in the desert near the California-Arizona border was found dead Friday evening just outside Cibola, Arizona.

Amanda Nenigar’s body was found naked under a tree, less than two miles from where her abandoned blue Toyota Camry was discovered weeks earlier. La Paz County Sheriff William Ponce said her clothing was scattered nearby, leading investigators to believe she had been overwhelmed by the desert heat during the day. Although the cause of death has not yet been determined, officials suspect she died as a result of exposure, Ponce said.

“We are devastated,” her sister Marissa Nenigar told the Times on Monday. “It just makes me sick to think about what she went through.”

The missing persons case sparked such interest online that authorities asked on social media to stop calling 911 to ask for updates. In another post following news of her death, the La Paz County Sheriff’s Office wrote that people should “please respect the family during this time and avoid spreading rumors and assumptions.”

Nenigar’s family reported her missing on February 28 after her phone kept sending calls straight to voicemail and she never called back. A day earlier, Nenigar left the hotel where she was staying in Blythe at 3:44 a.m., according to hotel surveillance video.

About three hours later, she called police and said she had run off the road and wasn’t sure where she was. According to a 911 call recording released by law enforcement, she told the dispatcher that she was trying to get to Palm Springs.

“I think I fell asleep at the wheel,” she said. “I was tired so I stopped, but I think I liked getting off the road.”

During the nearly hour-long 911 call, Nenigar attempts to work with the dispatcher to give him her location. But she has no cell service and can’t remember which street she’s on. At some point during the call, she reads out the coordinates, but the dispatcher struggles to pinpoint her exact location. He mentions that her phone touches a cell tower in Palo Verde.

During the call, Nenigar tells dispatchers that someone is trying to kill her and that she is trying to escape. Her mother, Jaime Mcbroom, said Nenigar struggled with her mental health and battled addiction.

“She was trying to get through it,” she said. “Her mind goes through psychosis when she withdraws or her body detoxifies, and I think that’s why she ended up out there.”

About 50 minutes after the 911 call, Nenigar told the dispatcher that she was scared. “Will you find me?” She asks.

Her car, stuck on a boulder in the desert about three miles from a main road, was discovered more than a week later. But Nenigar could not be found.

Ponce, the sheriff, said his department became involved about seven days after Nenigar’s disappearance when one of his commanders heard from residents about a search for the woman. Police combed the area with aircraft equipped with night vision goggles. They also used drones, and officers and residents searched on horseback and in all-terrain vehicles for about 10 days. According to Ponce, US Fish & Wildlife even searched the area with its vehicles.

The area where Nenigar went missing is remote and mountainous. Daytime temperatures have been in the 70s and 80s recently, and at night the mercury can drop as low as 20 degrees in the stretch of land right next to the Colorado River, Ponce said.

“It’s frustrating to be in the situation we’re in right now,” Ponce said. “The first 24 to 48 hours of any examination are crucial. I believe that if we had been informed of this incident by the other local authorities immediately after her disappearance, we probably could have started a search. We didn’t know she was in our area.”

According to her mother and sister, Nenigar’s favorite moments were those spent with her daughters – an 8-year-old and one who is almost 2 years old. She loved celebrating their birthdays and taking them to pumpkin patches. She treasured her family’s annual camping trips.

“She loved her daughters so much,” Marissa Nenigar said.

With no leads, Mcbroom had spent almost every day of the last month searching the desert for her daughter. She called out her name and played music by Selena, one of Nenigar’s favorite singers, hoping her daughter would hear her.

As news of Nenigar’s disappearance spread online, friends and strangers reached out with offers to help find her.

Sometimes tips just led to dead ends. People reported seeing them in other states, even Oklahoma. Other messages were downright cruel. A scammer contacted Marissa Nenigar and told her that her sister had been kidnapped and demanded a ransom from her.

Mcbroom once consulted a psychic to find out her daughter’s whereabouts. But nothing worked.

“I’ve saved her life many times before,” Mcbroom said, his voice cracking with emotion, “but this time I couldn’t do it.”

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