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Death of Mariposa Family Remains A Mystery

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Mariposa County, CA —  While the investigation continues into the death of a young family near the Sierra National Forest, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s office has released a list of what causes have been ruled out along with an update on the case.

Today, Sheriff Jeremy Briese released a written statement detailing the cause of death remains undetermined, but that “detectives continue conducting interviews and investigating all potential possible explanations for the death of the Gerrish/Chung family.  Many toxicology reports have been completed; however, we are still pending a few key results. We have no timeline for those pending results.”

The family went missing in mid-August after their vehicle was found near the forest gates.  A search began, ending in tragedy when the entire family, John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, one-year-old daughter Miju and the family dog, were discovered deceased near the Devil’s Gulch area in the Southfork of the Merced River drainage, as earlier reported here. As investigators search for the cause of death, water sample tests were taken from the river checking on toxic algae bloom levels, as detailed here.

Detectives are working closely with toxicologists, environmental specialists, the FBI, and other specialists with Sheriff Briese adding, “We respect and understand the need for information and details regarding this case. Our current priorities remain supporting and informing the Gerrish/Chung family during this tragic time. As we navigate through this investigation with the family, we will later share our findings with the public.”

The sheriff’s office also provided the list of “Causes of Death Ruled Out” below, advising that it was compiled based on evidence recovered or through investigation. Sheriff’s officials pointed out that “ALL other potential causes of death remain.”

  • Gun or any other type of weapon
  • Lightning Strike
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Cyanide Exposure
  • Illegal Drugs / Alcohol
  • Suicide