Relatives and others push to search for missing “Castaneda” women

panamintdunesIn the 1960s, Carlos Castenada emerged as a popular author and figure in mystical writings. His books sold millions. Critics were skeptical about his tales of Mexican Shamanism, but his fans grew in number. He later founded Cleargreen, an organization to promote his spiritual beliefs. Castenada also reportedly gathered around him five women who all disappeared shortly after his death in 1998. The body of one of them was found in Death Valley. Now, relatives and others want to conduct a search for the other missing women. They have prodded Sheriff Bill Lutze to circumvent bureaucracy so they could take in dogs and search crews over the weekend.

A man named David Marin emailed local media and the Sheriff. He said he is a cousin of Amalia Marquez, one of the missing women associated with Castenada and one of the people in a reported suicide pact of those who survived the eccentric author. Marin wrote the he and others wanted to search the area where Patricia Partin’s body was found and nearby mine shafts where a shrine was supposedly set up.

Marin alleges that Inyo Sheriff’s men advocated a search of the mine and that the Park Service needed to know if the Sheriff had opened an investigation. Robert Marshall, who wrote an article on Castenada and his followers, said the group had to die together to find the way to eternal life. He called it a cult. Marin continued to push the Sheriff to open a case.

Sheriff Lutze responded in an email. He said in 1998, an abandoned vehicle was found near the Panamint Dunes. There were no other vehicles in the area. Five years later, the remains of Patricia Partin were found and later identified. Lutze said Mr. Marin contacted his office at the end of March with a request to open a case to look for the other missing Castenada women. Lutze said he was told there is no open case or missing person’s case. Although Marin said he had Park Service permission to search the Death Valley mine, Sheriff Lutze said his Department called the Park Service and found that Marin did not have a permit or permission.

Lutze said his office and the Park Service explained the permitting process to Mr. Marin who continued to push and insist that the Sheriff open a case. With no immediate evidence to do that, Sheriff Lutze said his Office “currently has investigators reviewing original case files and has had numerous conversations with the National Park Service recently to share information.” Lutze said, “The Sheriff’s Office remains willing to work with David Marin and the National Park Service, but as Sheriff of Inyo County I have an obligation and duty to proceed with cases based on facts and will not circumvent permits and processes put in place to insure the safety of personnel, the preservation of archaeological sites, as well as other historical grounds.”

The writer, Robert Marshall responded to Sheriff Lutze in another lengthy email, and insisted that the Sheriff grant permission for them to search Death Valley. The Sheriff made it clear he couldn’t do that. Mr. Marshall emphasized that after the death of Carlos Castaneda, five women, “all key figures in the cult he started building in the last ten years of his life, disappeared.” Marshall said Castaneda had spoken repeatedly about the virtues of suicide. He claims Patricia Partin had gone to Death Valley to find an abandoned mine as a site for a group suicide.

At last word, the group said they planned to show up in Death Valley on Saturday.

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22 Responses to Relatives and others push to search for missing “Castaneda” women

  1. spencer April 15, 2014 at 12:54 pm #

    Rest in Peace Patricia …your spirit soars as the wind upon the dunes.

  2. Anita April 7, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    What I’m curious about is why the cousin (Marin) waited and the author waited 15 years after the discovery of Patricia’s body to decide to start searching.

    • David Marin April 10, 2014 at 2:06 pm #


      I’m David Marin, in the story…

      My cousin’s brother contacted the police weeks after Castaneda’s death in 1998. Nothing happened. It took years for the LAPD to file a missing persons report.

      Even though cult member Patricia Partin’s car was found in the parking lot of the Panamint Dunes in 1998, it was five years before her body was found (2003) and three more years before it was identified via DNA.

      In 2007, writer Robert Marshall (google: robert marshall salon castaneda) told the Inyo County Sheriff Department to search the Big Four Mine – Patricia had been tasked to find a mine for a group suicide according to an attorney insider> The investigator said they would, but they didn’t. So… it’s taken so long because no one does anything.

      Good question, Anita, but we’ve never given up trying.

  3. David Xanatos April 5, 2014 at 11:43 am #

    Don’t be too sure they all committed suicide. About ten years ago in Northampton, MA, the blond woman that was supposed to be Carol Tiggs – I swear I saw her in Northampton, MA. I had seen her on the Tensegrity videos (long ago – not sure but I think it was “Carol” – the really sharp one with the short blond hair). Anyway, I did an about face and followed her, and when she stopped for a moment, I approached her and said “Carol?” She stood motionless for a moment, went sort of pale, and then said “Sorry, don’t know a Carol, and crossed the street in front of traffic almost causing an accident. She bolted. I swear it was her… Since then, I’ve always wondered if it was really their “persona” that committed suicide – and that they simply became someone else. If you read Castaneda’s philosophy, you know that whole bit about our personal history being only what we tell people… it’s easy to “die” as one person, and become someone else entirely. Wouldn’t surprise me in the least if that’s what happened. They simply severed all ties to who they were, everything that made them “them”, and assumed new identities. At least I’m pretty sure one did…

    • David Marin April 10, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

      I’m David in the story.

      Your theory is plausible because the four missing women all did it one time before – they renounced their families and changed their names when they became part of Castaneda’s cult. There is, however (if you google: castaneda robert marshall salon) plenty of evidence that a mass suicide was planned and occurred.

      I bet Carol Tiggs knows where they are – dead or alive.

  4. MyMonkeys April 5, 2014 at 10:36 am #

    ” Lutze said he was told there is no open case or missing person’s case.”
    I am confused. Were these women ever officially reported as missing???

    • Benett Kessler April 5, 2014 at 10:45 am #

      We don’t know.

      • David Marin April 10, 2014 at 2:01 pm #

        Dear Ms. Kessler.

        I’m David Marin, as reported in the story.

        I contacted six people in the Sheriff’s Department, via phone message (no one would take my calls) and e-mail. No one responded. Had they responded, I would have told them a Missing Persons report was filed many years ago with the Los Angeles Police Department, the last know place of residence for my cousin, Amalia Marquez.

  5. Mongo the IDIOT April 5, 2014 at 8:44 am #

    Rest in Complete and total Peace…

  6. Wayne Deja April 4, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

    Death Valley….a really big area to be searching for something from 1998….and this one sounds like it includes mine shafts…..and with the summer coming……after the Barker Ranch search for more bodies back a few years ago,and then a couple years later back out there when the missing German family remains were found,I’ll bet the Inyo County Sheriffs Investigators are standing in line to want to begin this one.

    • Trouble April 4, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

      Ya Wayne, why should the Sheriff dept waste it’s money trying to locate missing people?

      • Wayne Deja April 5, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

        Tell you what….Trouble….You drag YOURSELF out there on a whim and do some searching for those people that might or might not be in that thousands of square-mile National Park……I’m sure your post is only meant as a dig at Law Enforcement for “wasting their time and money” enforcing the laws….like DUI’s…….and if you knew anything about me,you’d know searching for missing people in Inyo County should be a big priority.I felt the Barker dig was a good thing..and felt getting answers to those missing Germans family and friends was the right thing to investigate and get answers for too..but with this one,not so much.. not to the point of doing it without more facts,or for the Sheriff to try to over-rule permits and processes set by the Federal National Park service with this now 16 year old possibility.

        • Trouble April 5, 2014 at 5:24 pm #

          Wayne, I admit I have a confused sense of humor and morals. I think it’s nuts these guys can’t legally go look for their lost family members. I wouldn’t even wait for permission if it was my family member. If it’s not private property , it’s open to the public in my book. You ought see my rule book!

          • Wayne Deja April 5, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

            Trouble….Nothing I can read that says the family can’t legally go out there and look…nothing saying it’s a a” closed area for the public”….no such thing if it’s a National Park or public land….now maybe it’s another thing needing Park Service permission to go into the mines and mineshafts,I’m thinking more out of safety concerns than anything else….for the people maybe doing it,or those going out and looking for them when they come up missing too..

          • Trouble April 6, 2014 at 7:02 am #

            I don’t think I should need a hall pass to shine a light down a mine shaft.

          • Wayne Deja April 6, 2014 at 9:01 am #

            Trouble…..The “trouble” with that is you wouldn’t be able to see the bottom of the shaft if you were to do that….unless you were totally over the shaft,either suspended over a rope(I knew someone that used to do that by backing his truck over the shaft and hooking a rope to his trailer hitch……He’s dead now,but not from falling down a shaft,but from being shot and killed by his wife)…or maybe you could balance yourself over the mines that have those old 80+ year old boards over the top of the shaft…..either way,odds are probably 50-50 you’d end up in the bottom of the mine…with others trying to get down there and fetch your remains and notify your family.

          • Desert Tortoise April 7, 2014 at 3:42 pm #

            The reason law enforcement and the park don’t want people going down those mine shafts is that there are better than even odds that the searchers will end up needing to be rescued from either a cave in or someone falling down a dark mine shaft. Those mines were closed for good reason. Too many people have been lost in them already. Chances are the searchers will find nothing but trouble and require an expensive and manpower intensive rescue effort of their own.

      • Reality Check April 6, 2014 at 11:14 am #

        Wayne, the article indicates that they are looking at specific mine shafts, not searching all of Death Valley.

        • Wayne Deja April 6, 2014 at 2:32 pm #

          Reality Check…The specific areas of search,in this case, “specific mine shafts”,might have to cover a lot of ground if your not finding something…kinda like that Barker Ranch body search….first,reports of someone underground near the ranch house…..then turning into the little canyon behind the ranch house….then farther into the canyon behind the ranch house ….and kinda the same with the missing German family back in 1996…..figured a path of travel towards the Navy base to seek help….then turning into a wash area maybe looking for water…and then ending up being a whole different scenario and a whole different direction where the family headed south and an area that wasn’t even searched untill ,what was it, 14 years later,where they were found…and then,in 2006,when Renee Fox went missing in Mazourka Canyon…a sighting near the little cabin area,and reports she headed UP the canyon and not down towards town….then a report she may have fallen down a mine shaft….and then saying she never left the road with her travel,when in fact a good chance she walked the wash after she had human contact….what I’m trying to say is a small search area,weather it be an area where there are mines to look into,or a vast open desert, a small area to search can quickly change into a large area if the ones that are looking aren’t finding something.

  7. another way? April 4, 2014 at 6:08 pm #

    Wouldn’t there be unsolved missing persons cases from 1998 in the counties or cities where these other women lived or disappeared from that would help the searchers get a permit?

    • Desert Tortoise April 7, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

      From the article:

      ” Lutze said he was told there is no open case or missing person’s case”

  8. Trouble April 4, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

    I wouldnt want to interupt anyones campaign . But maybe someone should let these people at least search for their missing family members. maybe we can give up the guys stakng out mcdonalds drivethru for a day or two.


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