Walnut Creek mom missing since June trip to Joshua Tree

A Bay Area mom remains missing, more than a month after she set off on a road trip to the Southern California desert.

There are clues but no sign of Erika Lloyd, 37, of Walnut Creek. 

"Her son was the apple of her eye and she would have come back for him," said Lloyd's close friend Rebecca Malone, who worked alongside her as a hair stylist. 

"She's got a child here who needs her, she's got friends, she's got family, and we all miss her a lot," said Malone tearfully. 

"It's hard to not know what happened to her and someone has to know something." 

Joshua Tree National Park, 7 hours south, is where Lloyd drove alone in mid-June.

She told her roommate she was meeting friends to camp there and clear her mind.     

Lloyd lost contact, then her Honda sedan was found a few miles from Joshua Tree, abandoned with its front and back windshields shattered.   

With friends and family alarmed, the terrain between the campground and the vandalized car was searched by air, all terrain vehicles and ground teams with dogs. 

"The vehicle was damaged before leaving the park," said Detective Alan Pennington of the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department, "and there was minor damage to the undercarriage where it was disabled, the vehicle had broken down." 

Pennington knows Lloyd's loved ones fear foul play, but says he has found no evidence of that. 

"We know she alone going to the park and alone inside the park, we have evidence of that."  

Now, 7 weeks later, search and rescue teams continue to look for Lloyd, but if lost, her chances of survival are slim in the relentless 100-plus degree heat. 

Her tent and other camping gear were left behind at her campsite. 
But there is another possibility.  

"Highway 62 is easily 100 yards from where the vehicle is disabled and she easily could have gotten a ride with somebody and is out there somewhere."

But where? 

Her parents have traveled from their home in Maryland to California twice trying to find their daughter.      

"Reached out a little bit with flyers and talking to people," said Wayne Lloyd.

"The big thing is just keeping the word out, hoping someone might have seen her."

The couple just spent a week in the Mojave, trying to re-energize the effort. 

"We're just trying to get the word out and keep her story alive so it just doesn't die off," said Ruth Lloyd. 

"The community, the people we've met down there, the businesses, have been more than willing to put her flyer up in their windows, they've been more than kind."

Tuesday, the Lloyds were in Walnut Creek, checking on their daughter's apartment.

Soon, they will pack it up, as they did her hair salon suite in Alamo last month. 

They wonder if Lloyd was injured, and disoriented, by what happened in her car. 

They know she'd been feeling the strain, as a single mom unable to support herself as a stylist because of the pandemic.   

"She said she was going to the desert to unplug from stress," said Ruth Lloyd. 

Added best friend Malone, "she told me she needed a break, she needed to relax, she needed to get off the internet."

"But did someone harm her and what if someone knows something but hasn't spoken up?"

Malone describes Lloyd as very outgoing and approachable.

"Erika can talk to anyone, she is so cool, a chameleon, she can blend into any crowd and she is kind, she is fun."

Malone also says Lloyd has two pet rabbits she would not abandon. 

The mystery of what happened in the desert is heartbreaking for a family, facing questions from a confused 12 year old. 

"We love you Erika and we miss you and our little grandson misses you terribly, so he wants you to come home," implored mom Ruth. 

Anyone with information on the disappearance of Erika Lloyd should contact the San Bernardino Sheriff's Department at (760) 366-4175 or call 911. 

A GoFundMe has been established to help the family finance a private search effort as well.