Details of Disappearance
Cornelia was vacationing with her son, Max Meyer, her boyfriend, 34-year-old Egbert Rimkus
, and Rimkus's son, Georg Weber
, in July 1996. Photographs and vital statistics for Max are unavailable.
They were all from Germany and were vacationing in California in the United States. They were last known to be at Death Valley in Inyo County, California. They bought a booklet at the Furnace Creek Visitors Center; the receipt for the transaction was dated July 22, 1996.
After leaving the visitors center, Georg, Rimkus and the Meyers apparently traveled towards the Panamint Mountains in their rented 1996 Plymouth Voyager. The road they were on was treacherous; it was steep, covered with rocks and spotted with sand bars.
The travelers stopped at a camp and Rimkus left a German-language entry in the log book there. It read, "7-23-96. Conny Egbert Georg Max. We are going through the pass." Authorities believe he probably meant Mengle Pass, on the southwest border of Death Valley National Park.
However, the visitors never arrived there; they turned off that route a mile short of the pass and drove east into Anvil Spring Canyon. Investigators are uncertain as to why, as the canyon is very isolated, closed to traffic, and not a usual destination for first-time tourists.
The whereabouts of Rimkus, Georg and Cornelia and Max after that are unknown. They were due to fly back to Germany on July 29 and had reserved airplane seats, but never arrived. Their rental vehicle was not returned to the agency and was reported stolen after thirty days.
It was located on October 26, 1996, stuck in the sand at Anvil Spring Canyon. Three of the tires were flat. There was no sign of any of the missing people at the scene and their passports, Cornelia's purse, the rental car contract, the keys, Rimkus's wallet, all the money and the airline tickets were missing.
Miscellaneous items were located inside the vehicle, including a sleeping bag, clothing and shoes, beer and beer bottles, a camera with several exposed rolls of film, an American flag, and two empty one-gallon water containers. A beer bottle was found half a mile away from the site where the Voyager was located; the bottle was the same kind that was inside the van.
The area the group disappeared from is very dangerous because of its high temperatures; it was about 124 degrees on the day the missing tourists were last heard from, and no one could survive those conditions more than a few days in those temperatures without a source of water.
In November 2009, hikers found some human bones in a remote area of the desert. Authorities determined they were from an adult male and female. In June 2010, the male bones were identified as Rimkus's. The female's bones are presumed to be Cornelia's, but they were so dry that investigators could not extract enough DNA from them for analysis.
No bones from children were recovered; there has been no sign of Georg or Max since 1996, but they are presumed to have died of exposure.