Details of Disappearance Aujay had the day off from work and went for a day hike in the Devil's Punchbowl area of the Angeles National Forest on June 11, 1998. He never returned.
The Devil's Punchbowl is a remote park on the north slope of the San Gabriel Mountains. Aujay had a reputation as a skilled outdoorsman and an experienced hiker who hiked in the San Gabriel Mountains about once a week. He was also a long-distance runner who ran daily and had completed six fifty-mile ultramarathons.
A former paratrooper in the U.S. Army's Special Forces unit, Aujay was a deputy at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department at the time of his disappearance. He had been employed with the department for fifteen years by 1998 and is described as a conscientious employee who worked nights and rarely called in sick or took vacation time.
On the day of his disappearance, early into his hike, Aujay encountered a teacher with class of children on a field trip. He stopped to talk to them and said he planned to go to the summit of Mount Baden-Powell, a 9,400-foot-tall mountain twenty miles away, and returned by sunset. Over the next several hours, two witnesses saw a man fitting his description jogging towards the mountain.
The last sighting of Aujay was at 6:00 p.m.; someone saw him heading towards the parking lot. Not long afterwards, area residents heard a single gunshot in the vicinity. Aujay never returned home and has never been heard from again. His wife reported him missing at 11:00 p.m., and police found his truck in the parking lot and launched a search at 11:30 p.m.
An extensive search involving two helicopters, thirty people and at least two bloodhounds failed to find any trace of him, other than some footprints in the snow near Mount Baden-Powell. The search was called off after a week.
Aujay left behind his wife of twelve years; they were high school sweethearts and had a five-year-old daughter. According to his wife, a month before his disappearance, Aujay had told her he wanted a divorce. His sister stated he was unhappy living in Los Angeles County and that he wanted to move to the mountains.
For unspecified reasons, investigators believed that Operation Silent Thunder, a two-year undercover methamphetamine operation in the Antelope Valley area, might uncover evidence about Aujay's disappearance. No clues were found, though, and he remains missing. Aujay's case remains unsolved.
- Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
Updated 3 times since October 12, 2004. Last updated March 25, 2019; details of disappearance updated.