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Carmen was last seen with her husband, Diego Garcia, and her daughter,
On April 25, the family's car was found abandoned in a snowbank 500 feet down a gorge in the San Gabriel Mountains, off Route 2 near Big Pines, California. It was buried in five feet of snow and the top was crushed in. There was no blood inside the car and no evidence of foul play. That particular road had been closed since March 16, the day after the Garcia/Burhans family vanished. Police theorized the vehicle was either pushed down the mountain by someone trying to conceal it, or accidentally bumped off the roadside by a snowplow whose driver didn't notice it parked there.
Diego is Carmen's second husband and Barbara's stepfather. There were rumors that Carmen, who had recently converted to Mormonism, was involved in a cult-type religion involving candles and live chicken sacrifice at the time of her disappearance, but this wasn't confirmed. Another theory was that Diego had gotten involved in a drug and/or gambling scheme and he and Carmen took Barbara and fled to the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, Florida; this too could not be substantiated.