In 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.
Rest in Peace Patricia …your spirit soars as the wind upon the dunes.
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.
Hi, 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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
” 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???
We don’t know.
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… Read more »
Rest in Complete and total Peace…
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… Read more »
Ya Wayne, why should the Sheriff dept waste it’s money trying to locate missing people?
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
I don’t think I should need a hall pass to shine a light down a mine shaft.
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… Read more »
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… Read more »
Wayne, the article indicates that they are looking at specific mine shafts, not searching all of Death Valley.
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… Read more »
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?
From the article:
” Lutze said he was told there is no open case or missing person’s case”
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.