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Eric and Ben, both 17, were recorded on a surveillance camera entering Joshua Tree National Park on July 14 and setting up camp at Jumbo Rocks campground. Ben told authorities he and Eric ingested large quantities jimson weed that night, a hallucinogen that grows wild in the park, and Ben told authorities he started having visions.
Ben said he spoke to a bush, an Indian and possibly to Eric, "but could not recall if Sears was in fact present or a hallucination," the document said.
He recalled last seeing Eric near the campsite sometime July 15. That afternoon, Ben asked nearby campers to drive him to the ranger station, where he reported Eric missing. Ben was wearing only boxer briefs and had no explanation for what happened to his clothing. Later, a search found his shorts, which were blood-stained, the warrant said.
-- Roxana Popescu. "Search warrant cites 'conflicting statements'" San Diego Union-Tribune, August 3, 2004.
Eric's sister, Stephanie Sears, 19, said she is convinced foul play is not involved in the disappearance of her brother. Ben told her that he and Eric came across jimson weed while they were hiking. Jimson weed can cause hallucinations and can be deadly. Sears said Ben told her "they knew what it (jimson weed) was" and wanted to try it.
Ben told her he drank a tea made from the weed, Sears said.
"He said my brother also drank it," she said.
Sheriff's investigators said they had no evidence of drug use.
--Roxana Popescu, Jeanette Steele and Shannon Tangonan.
"Searchers find body believed to be teen's". San Diego Union-Tribune, July 24, 2004.
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The estimated number of higher plant species in the world exceeds
250,000 and these species form the great wealth of the earth's plant genetic resources contributing towards biodiversity. However, an increasing
world human population threatens this biodiversity, with land being developed for agricultural, industrial and socio-economic reasons. It has been estimated
that some 25% of the world's plant species could become extinct over the next 50 years.
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