May 25, 2015 9:13 am
Updated: May 26, 2015 12:12 pm

Elderly missing couple found in California, husband dead

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WATCH ABOVE: The desperate search for an elderly couple in California comes to a tragic end. Don Champion reports.

WARNING: This story contains graphic details that some readers may find disturbing. Discretion is advised. 

A couple missing for two weeks were found on Sunday in a remote part of California with the elderly husband dead and his wife severely dehydrated, after surviving on just rain water and some food, authorities said.

Cecil Knutson, 79, and Dianna Bedwell, 68, were found near a Boy Scouts camp on the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation near Warner Springs, San Diego County.

Knutson’s body was near a white car and Bedwell was inside the vehicle, he said.

They were last seen leaving the Valley View Casino in Valley Center, about 40 miles west of the wilderness camp, on May 10.

Authorities said the two were planning on going to their son’s home in the Palm Springs area for a Mother’s Day dinner but they didn’t show up there or return to their home in Orange County.


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They were driving a 2014 White Hyundai Sonata when they visited the casino and were seen leaving around 2 p.m.

Their son, Robert Acosta, said at the time: “I don’t know if they were abducted or just went down a nasty hill and we can’t find them.

“All the things that are going through my mind, I don’t know. I just need answers.”

Bedwell, who was airlifted to a hospital in serious condition, told investigators they were looking for a shortcut when they got lost and stuck on a rugged road, Nelson said.

Their disappearance led to several ground and aerial searches of the back country. On Sunday afternoon, several people in off-road vehicles found the couple.

Bedwell said she survived on rain water and some food that was in the car.

Nelson said investigators had a ‘very limited’ conversation with Bedwell, and weren’t able to ask how or when Knutson died.

The two were apparently diabetic and needed insulin.

‘It would be difficult for someone in good health to survive being in the wild for that long, let alone someone like her,’ Nelson said. ‘It’s close to a miracle that she survived.’

Knutson and Bedwell were both retired school bus drivers and were married for more than 25 years, the Orange County Register reported.

When appeals to find the couple emerged earlier this month, it was revealed that Bedwell’s teenage sister had been brutally tortured and murdered 50 years ago.

Sylvia Likens, 16, was found dead in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Oct. 26, 1965, with massive brain swelling and hemorrhaging in what was called “the most terrible crime ever committed in the state of Indiana.”

In the summer of 1965, Likens’ parents moved her in with a mother of seven, Gertrude Baniszewski.

The girl began to fight with Baniszewski’s 17-year-old daughter Paula and things quickly deteriorated.

Likens was beaten with a paddle, burned with matches, locked into a cellar and denied use of the bathroom.

Baniszewski carved ‘I’m a prostitute and I’m proud of it!’ on the 16-year-old’s stomach and let her kids and neighborhood children physically and sexually abuse the girl.

After authorities found her dead body in the basement, Gertrude Baniszewski was charged and found guilty of first-degree murder in May 1966.

Paula Baniszewski was found guilty of second-degree murder and they were both sentenced to life in prison.

During a 1971 retrial, Baniszewski was found guilty once again while Paula pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.

© 2015 The Canadian Press

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