California Woman Mysteriously Vanishes From Her Ranch

“I can't believe that people haven't spoken up and come out with the truth,” Dia Abrams’ son says of the case.

Dia Abrams, pictured here, was last seen on June 6, 2020. Dia is 5’6” with blue eyes. At the time of her disappearance, she had blonde hair and weighed 135 lbs.

California woman Dia Abrams was living on her dream ranch in California when she disappeared during the height of the pandemic — and she hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

Photo by: Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (Screenshot from ID's "Disappeared")

Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (Screenshot from ID's "Disappeared")

By: Aaron Rasmussen

A California woman was living on her dream ranch in California when she disappeared during the height of the pandemic — and she hasn’t been seen or heard from since.

“Many individuals know the people and events that converged to bring about my mother’s demise,” Clinton Abrams told The Mercury News about Lydia “Dia” Abrams. “Where there is a will, there is a way; with ironclad tenacity, this case can be solved.”

Peggy Kotner told the newspaper she also hopes to find out what happened to her sister. “It’s like being in a ‘Dateline’ mystery,” she said.

On June 6, 2020, Dia Abrams, then 65, reportedly told her partner, Keith Harper, she was going to feed her horses.

According to a 2022 deposition and public statements, The Mercury News reported, Harper, 73, said he and Abrams first met on a dating website around 2014. Harper flew to meet Abrams and they hit it off. Six months later, he moved onto her multimillion-dollar 115-acre Bonita Vista Ranch in Mountain Center, where she had been living since moving from San Diego County around 15 years earlier.

The day Abrams went missing, video from a neighbor’s doorbell camera shows her dropping off food for her ailing neighbor in the morning, KFMB-TV reported.

“My understanding is that her neighbor said that what she really felt like eating were cinnamon rolls, and that she had had cancer or was undergoing chemotherapy,” Clinton Abrams told the station of his mother’s last known act of kindness.

Harper recently said in a deposition that he and Abrams had lunch at home that same day and the last time he saw her was around 2:30 p.m. According to Harper, Abrams went to feed horses at another property she owned in Garner Valley while he mowed a meadow.

Harper said he finished working around five hours later. When he returned to the home he and Abrams shared, he noted her pickup truck was still there but she was gone. Her keys, purse and phone were inside the house.

“She never left the residence,” Harper said, according to the deposition.

Volunteers and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Office searched the property and surrounding area but found no trace of the missing Abrams.

One Garner Valley resident whose wife knew Abrams disputed Harper’s claims about his whereabouts the day his fiancée disappeared. “That meadow was not freshly mowed. I walked through it. There were weeds up to my knees. There were foxtails in my pants and socks,” Ronnie Imel told The Mercury News.

Two days after Abrams’ disappearance, Harper reportedly left the state for a week, saying he had business to deal with in Arizona, the deposition states.

In the KFMB-TV interview, Clinton Abrams speculated about what happened to his mother. “I think it was done too perfectly,” he said. “I think Dia was kidnapped that Saturday, taken to another location, murdered, and disposed of somewhere in the relative local vicinity of her property.”

Harper has adamantly denied he had anything to do with Abrams vanishing.

In a search warrant affidavit dated June 16, 2020 — eight days after Abrams was last seen alive — Riverside County sheriff’s investigator Donald Atkinson wrote, “Abrams went missing under suspicious circumstances and foul play is suspected.”

On Dec. 23, 2021, Abrams’ sprawling property was again the center of mystery when ranch hand Jodi Newkirk died there.

Shortly after 5 that evening, a California Highway Patrol officer responded to a 911 call from Harper, who said he found 46-year-old Newkirk pinned underneath an all-terrain vehicle. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

A police report shows the officer was concerned about apparent inconsistencies in Harper’s story about what happened to Newkirk, including the lack of injuries to her body that would likely result from an ATV rolling over on top of her.

The coroner later determined Newkirk died from acute methamphetamine toxicity and her manner of death was ruled undetermined.

Kelly Berkowitz said her sister, Newkirk, allegedly battled drug addiction but called her a “professional user” who “never had an overdose,” The Mercury News reported.

According to the publication, Berkowitz said she spoke on the phone with Newkirk the day before she died. Newkirk, she claimed, was upset because Harper had pawned her horse to pay for a bridge he was working on at Abrams’ property and she wanted to get it back.

Harper allegedly told The Mercury News via text: “If Jodi had died from an overdose, why stage (an) accident to cover up an overdose, why not just report the death?”

The newspaper reported he also allegedly addressed the deaths of both his fiancée and the ranch hand, texting: “That’s tragic. The loss of one life is tragic, but the loss of many is overwhelming.”

Further complicating the case, the publication reported that on May 22, 2020 — just over two weeks before she went missing — Abrams amended a 2016 trust that named her daughter, Crisara Abrams, as the trustee of her estate and replaced her with Harper and her friend. The friend later removed herself as trustee.

Abrams’ daughter fought to also have Harper removed as trustee. A petition filed in July 2021 and obtained by The Mercury News shows Crisara Abrams was concerned about Harper’s possible connections to her mother disappearing as well as his criminal history.

According to law enforcement and court records, The Mercury News reported, Harper pleaded guilty in 2002 to assaulting his ex-wife in Colorado, a misdemeanor. Ten years later, the records show, he was also convicted in the state of three counts of misdemeanor unlawful sexual conduct after he was accused of fondling women during snowmobile tours arranged through a business he owned.

Harper maintained he was innocent of the latter charge in the 2022 deposition.

Crisara Abrams and Harper recently settled the matter, agreeing that in June 2025 the estate will be divided three ways. Harper will receive half, while Crisara Abrams and her brother, Clinton Abrams, will each get a quarter.

According to the agreement, if any of the three is ever found to have been involved in Abrams’ disappearance or presumed death, they will be “disinherited and shall receive no distribution from the trust.”

The trust agreement also stipulates a $300,000 reward will be paid out by the estate to anyone who provides information that helps solve Abrams’ disappearance case.

“I can't believe that it hasn't been solved,” Clinton Abrams told KFMB-TV. “I can't believe that people haven't spoken up and come out with the truth because I know a lot of people actually know what happened.”

Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco recently told KFMB-TV in an email that the sheriff’s office is “actively pursuing all leads concerning the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Ms. Abrams” and cannot comment further on evidence or the active investigation.

“We have served numerous search warrants, interviewed dozens of people, in multiple states and continue working with our law enforcement partners in Arizona,” the sheriff wrote.

For more on this case, tune into Disappeared: “Love and Lies in Idyllwild” on Sept. 3 at 10/9c on ID, or stream on Max.

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