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The mysterious disappearance of a Buena Park man whose dog was found dead in his car

The journey that a Buena Park man took before he went missing adds to the mystery of his disappearance.

Jonathan Barmaki, 27, from Buena Park in Orange County, Calif. was last seen by his mom, Luisa Barmaki, a Real Estate Agent for Century 21, before he drove off with his life-time companion, Sandy, his dog, in the car.  On Monday, Luisa answered the door to officials that stated they found Jonathan’s car in Jacumba Hot Springs with his dog, dead inside the car and footprints in the dirt from the car leading to the border fence.

johnbarmakiJonathan Barmaki (Facebook) 

The investigation found that Jonathan made several stops before he ended up in a remote location in San Diego County.  A receipt from the PetsMart in Encinitas showed he bought two pet bowls and some dog food. Encinitas is about an hour away from Buena Park and on the way to San Diego.  Then a video surveillance camera picks up Jonathan at a Target at Plaza Bonita Mall in the Chula Vista area of San Diego County around 9 p.m. on April 30th, the same day that he left Buena Park. He purchased toiletries, a phone charger and some clothes. Then Sunday morning he was seen by another surveillance camera at the Valero gas station in National City around 5 a.m. Sunday. That is the last that is known about Jonathan’s journey until his car was found in Jacumba about 18 hours later reports Channel 10 news.

Photo of fence in Jacumba.  Vehicle is the border patrol. (Photo:  Jerrie Dean)

Where Jonathan’s car was found does not make sense. Jacumba (pronounced hacumba) is desolant and is about 5 miles north of the Mexican border. It has a eerie, noticeable lonely feeling once you get out of your car and look at the acres of brush surrounded by a hillside, that more than likely has a border patrol agent or two parked on it.  Known only as Jacumba until a petition was signed to change the name to Jacumba Hot Springs in 2013,  it was a popular place to go in the 30’s because of the natural hot springs in the area.  In the 40’s many Hollywood celebrity’s came to the area to enjoy the hot springs.  Over the years, spa’s have opened and closed because they could not financially make it.

South of Highway 80 in Jacumba.  My car in the distance. (Photo Jerrie Dean)

San Diego locals would drive to Jacumba not for the hot springs, but to be able to to get to an area just feet away from Mexico to do target shooting. That was stopped around the early 2000’s, and now there is no reason to go to this area anymore, unless you want to look at the small town of Jacumba out of curiousity or drive off the road for a rest stop to look at some desert scenery, where now a 25-foot fence separates California from Mexico.

So, why was Jonathan’s car found here of all places?  An hour away from where he was last seen in an area that most don’t venture to.  Is there a clue left by the footprints leaving the car and going towards the border fence? Do the footprints belong to Jonathan? Did he leave the Valero gas station in National City and drive for over an hour to go to Jacumba? If so, why did he lock his dog in the car when the area is wide open? If he was looking at the view, it would seem to me he would let the dog out of the car, especially after the long drive to get there. Is it possible something happened to Jonathan and someone else was driving the car and they are the ones that left the footprints leading to the fence?

Also, it seems as though Jonathan’s trip was not planned when you keep in mind the items that he bought for himself and his dog.  It all points to an unplanned trip to San Diego, or at least a day trip ended up being an overnight trip.

The only person that probably can answer many of these questions is Jonathan and he is missing.

Jonathan is described as 5’11”, 180 lbs, with brown eyes and dark brown hair. He was last seen wearing a black T-shirt, dark blue sweatpants and glasses.




Jerrie Dean, who is retired from Federal Law Enforcement, is the Founder of Missing Persons of America and Missing Texas Forty.

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