It's been four months since surfers found the body of Wilfredo Escobar in the waters off Bolsa Chica State Beach. His mother is still trying to figure out what led to the mysterious death.
Escobar, 34, was discovered around 9:50 a.m. June 9 near Tower 19, next to the campgrounds in Huntington Beach. He was wearing a T-shirt and boxers and was taken to Huntington Beach Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy later ruled the death an accidental drowning, but his mother said her intuition indicates otherwise.
"I believe something really bad happened to him. I think my son was with somebody and they left him there," Cristina Reyes-Burdett told Patch, fighting back tears. "A lot of things just don't make sense, and Will deserved better."
Escobar was far from home when he died. He lived in Henderson, Nev., with his family and worked at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas. He was very computer-savvy, according to his mom, and even received a full scholarship to Duke University, where he studied computer engineering for a short time. He frequently went to Comic Con in San Diego, and Newport Beach was among his favorite places.
Reyes-Burdett last saw her son in April when she left for Texas for a family graduation. It was there she felt something was wrong.
"On the day he supposedly drowned, I felt like a knife went through my heart, and I told my husband something was wrong at home," Reyes-Burdett said. "When we returned home a few days later, I had the most vivid dream. My son came to the side of my bed and gave me a hug and a kiss. Then I saw him lifting up, and he had something white wrapped around him and he had the most beautiful smile."
Although the dream gave Reyes-Burdett a small bit of peace, she is still struggling to cope with her son's death and is desperate to find answers about what he encountered in the days leading to his death.
Escobar's jeans, coat and a towel from a hotel were found on the shore close to his body. Authorities also found Escobar's Tracfone, but his wallet and luggage are still missing.
"Will is not the kind of person that would just go jump in the ocean, maybe he was walking along the ocean to his friend's house in Newport Beach and ran into some bad characters. We really don't know," Dave Burdett, Escobar's stepfather, said. "We are overcome with grief and cannot even pick up the pieces. We can't get back to normal. The questions keep coming."
Dave Burdett said bank records show Escobar was also in the Seattle area a few days before he was in the neighborhood of Pacific Coast Highway and Warner Avenue near Huntington Beach. Authorities told the family a phone call was placed to police from Escobar's cell phone while he was in Seattle, but the reason for the call is unknown. His method of travel is also a mystery because Escobar didn't drive or have a car.
Reyes-Burdett said the unanswered questions are unbearable and hopes someone can help shed light on how her son ended up by himself at Bolsa Chica State Beach.
"If somebody saw something please, let me know. He was a peaceful guy; he never got into confrontations," Reyes-Burdett said. "I don't have hate in my heart, but I don't want someone who hurt my son to get away with it."
Anyone with information about Escobar's death can contact Cristina Reyes-Burdett and Dave Burdett at Cristinareyes1@aol.com.