Lauren Cho, a 30-year-old tattoo artist from Flemington, N.J., has been missing since June 28, 2021. But now authorities have revved up their search. While it’s still not clear what happened to Cho, the investigation into Gabby Petito’s disappearance and subsequent homicide have heightened the hunt for clues in the Cho case.

According to reports, Lauren Cho worked at N.J.’s Diamond Heart tattoo and piercing shop but left her job to travel the country with her boyfriend. Cho was last seen in the Yucca Valley last June and friends and family are requesting any information that might lead them in the right direction. As of Wednesday afternoon, it wasn’t clear if Cho was dead or alive.

Where is Lauren Cho? Search for missing tattoo artist intensifies. Authorities still don't know if she's dead or alive.
Where is Lauren Cho? Search for missing tattoo artist intensifies. Authorities still don’t know if she’s dead or alive. Photo Credit: Twitter

In an effort to garner interest and attention to the case, her close friends and colleagues have created and shared the hashtag #findelcho. In an Instagram post shared Tuesday, @sbbodyarts shared a carousel of photos from Cho’s time working as a tattoo artist.

“MISSING!!!” the account captioned the post. “Lauren ‘El’ Cho was a piercing apprentice & former employee at @diamondheartstudios. She has been missing since June 28, while taking a cross-country trip. She has ties to the piercing community and we need to come together and share her story and hopefully help her family find her!”

As the nationwide search for Brian Laundrie continues and the search for clues in Gabby Petito’s homicide intensifies, so have other missing person investigations. In the case of Lauren Cho, supporting police departments have joined the search operations. On Tuesday, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department announced it would help look for Cho.

At the moment, the Morongo Basin Sheriff’s Station is leading the search for the missing tattoo artist. According to reports, Cho left a home on the Benmar Trail at around 5 p.m. on June 28. She had been staying there for a while before she went missing.

Investigators specializing in homicides and suspicious deaths also recently joined the search for Lauren Cho, the Palm Springs Desert Sun confirmed. Authorities announced on Facebook that “investigators are investigating all leads and working with family and friends of Ms. Cho. Future search operations will occur as further leads develop.”

According to The Miami Herald, search and rescue operations began in late June. Authorities began searching in Morongo and Yucca Valley but the operation was suspected after only a week. Cho’s case then became classified as a missing person case. In July, officers began searching remote areas of the mountains.

What happened to Lauren Cho? The tattoo artist left her job at NJ's Diamond Heart tattoo and piercing shop before heading on a cross-country road trip with her friend. She has been missing since June 28.
What happened to Lauren Cho? The tattoo artist left her job at NJ’s Diamond Heart tattoo and piercing shop before heading on a cross-country road trip with her friend. She has been missing since June 28. Photo Credit: Twitter

The sheriff’s department leading the charge said in August that the “ongoing search efforts continue with future operations planned as further leads are developed in the investigation.” Not a lot is currently known about the ongoing investigation and it’s unclear if authorities are withholding information regarding suspects or persons of interest or if such information wasn’t uncovered yet.

According to reports, Lauren Cho left her job at N.J.’s Diamond Heart tattoo and piercing shop and moved from New Jersey to California about eight months before she disappeared on June 28. She and her friend drove across the country in a tour bus looking for a “different life,” according to Cody Orell, the last person to see Cho before she went missing.

Cho’s case has been spotlighted in the wake of Gabby Petito’s disappearance, with many on social media claiming that there was disproportionate media coverage between the two cases. Petito’s case garnered national attention while Cho’s missing person case fell through the cracks. Many claimed that the disproportionate media coverage is due to Petito’s race. The claim is that because she is white, she gets more attention than missing people of color.

That argument was rejected by Lauren Cho’s family, who said that while “we understand the frustration many of you have expressed about how and why certain cases receive national coverage… ultimately, these two cases are NOT the same and the differences run deeper than what meets the public eye.”

According to missing person posters, Lauren Cho is a 30-year-old Asian female with black hair and brown eyes. She stands around 5-foot-3-inches and was last seen wearing a yellow T-shirt and jean shorts. Anyone with information regarding Cho’s whereabouts is urged to contact Detective Edward Hernandez or Sergeant Justine Giles from the Specialized Investigation Division at (909) 387- 3589.