Missing horseback rider found dead near Rio Verde, MCSO deputies say

A missing horseback rider has been found dead near Rio Verde after her horse returned home without her Wednesday afternoon.

According to Maricopa County deputies, 58-year-old Jillian Underschultz left on horseback from her Scottsdale-area home at around 2:30 p.m. on March 9. 

She typically rode her horse in a desert area near 144th Street and Hawknest Road. Her horse returned two hours later, but Underschultz was nowhere to be found.

Deputies confirmed that her body was located Thursday afternoon.

Officials say there are no signs of foul play or any suspicious circumstances in Underschultz's death, and an investigation is ongoing.

Professional guides say trail rides have become more popular in the area where Underschultz was found.

"The trails are easy, but if you go off trail, everything’s out to get you," said Shelby McGarry with Wild West Horse Adventures. "There are spikes on every plant, so it’s not very forgiving, but it is quite beautiful."

McGarry, an experienced rider, said there are several hazards in the desert that can unpredictably spook a horse.

"If a cholla comes and gets your horse in the flank, they’ll just take off, no matter how good they are," said McGarry.

More Arizona headlines

Tune in to FOX 10 Phoenix for the latest news

For the latest local news, download the FOX 10 News app