More than a week ago, an Indiana couple set off in their RV to meet up with friends in Tucson, Arizona.
But they never arrived, setting off a search effort. We’ve now learned that Ronnie Barker has been found dead and his wife Beverly was taken to a hospital.
Here’s what we know about the case so far.
When did they disappear?
On March 27, Ronnie and Beverly Barker set off from a California campground across the Nevada desert. Seven hours later, their trail went cold. They essentially vanished without a trace, with their RV, car and a host of electronics gone.
The couple had expected to arrive in Tucson, Arizona, on March 29. But friends and family worried once the data came and went.
The only indication of their location was a single ping from an isolated stretch of road. Family members had no idea what happened to them.
Beverly planned to celebrate her 70th birthday in just a few days, on April 9.
When was the last time anyone heard from them?
According to the couple’s daughters, the Barkers left Albany, Oregon, around 9:30 a.m. on March 26 after visiting their grandchildren. They headed south on their way to Arizona.
Beverly Barker called a friend around 12 p.m. that day. As far as the family knows, no one spoke to the couple after that. Since March 28, every phone call made to them went straight to voicemail.
Lynn Bledsoe, their daughter, said they wouldn’t have gone so long without returning calls unless something went wrong.
“If they saw I had called, they would have called me back,” she said.
The couple departed the Mt. Shasta KOA Campground in California at 12 p.m. on March 27. Just before 4 p.m., they stopped in Stagecoach, Nevada, to get fuel. That was their last known purchase.
The last known sighting of the Barkers was a grainy image of their RV on a desert highway in Luning, Nevada. It was taken around 6:05 p.m. on Sunday, March 27.
The final known ping from their cell phone followed just over an hour later, at 7:16 p.m.
Why didn’t a Silver Alert come sooner?
Eight days after their disappearance, a Silver Alert was issued Monday night in Nevada. The delay frustrated family members, who believed there was too much red tape involved in activating the alert.
Jennifer Whaley, another daughter, said local authorities hesitated to issue a Silver Alert because her parents weren’t Nevada residents. Authorities eventually made an exception.
“They reason they weren’t going to give a Silver Alert is that they aren’t residents of Nevada. That, to me, is insane. What does that have to do with anything? They’re missing in your state. So… it’s frustrating,” Jennifer said.
What did the search effort involve?
Local police searched campgrounds and rest stops in the area. Online sleuths and local witnesses have also tried to help. Family members looked at just about everything, from stray photographs of the RV to statements detailing credit card purchases.
The family set up an email account specifically for tips about the missing couple: email@example.com.
The Nevada Civil Air Patrol (CAP) assisted in the search this week, although it was unclear if the group spotted the couple’s RV.
A spokesperson for the CAP told KLAS the group assisted with 24 personnel from Reno, Las Vegas and Hawthorne.
The CAP utilized four aircraft in search efforts Tuesday, with two additional aircraft on standby. The total aircrew time used for the search was approximately 12 hours, covering open desert, mountainous regions, highways, off-road trails and densely wooded areas.
Where were they found?
While specific information regarding how they were found remains elusive, the couple’s nephew, Travis Peters, told KLAS their RV was located in Silver Peak, a small, unincorporated area in Esmeralda County that’s one of Nevada’s oldest mining communities. Neither Ronnie nor Beverly was with the RV and their car, a Kia Soul, was gone.
Ronnie Barker had died, Peters said. Beverly was alive and airlifted to a Reno hospital. Details about Ronnie’s death were unavailable.
There was also a lack of clarity on the status of the RV. Peters said it had been located, while local authorities couldn’t confirm the information.