LAFAYETTE, La. – The remains found submerged in a car pulled last week from the Vermilion River have been linked to a man reported missing in 1983.
The 1984 registration tag on the gray, Cadillac Fleetwood was registered to Louis Emery Roger, who has been missing for nearly 25 years, said Lt. Craig Stansbury, a spokesman for the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office.
Belongings and other evidence found in the car were identified as Roger's. Stansbury declined to say who identified the items.
Stansbury said Roger's wife, Dorothy Solieau Roger, filed a missing person's report on Oct. 26, 1983 after Roger did not return home from the previous night. In the report, she said it was not unusual for him to be gone for several days.
Witnesses reported seeing Roger leave Q-Time Bar in Scott around 5 a.m. on Oct. 26, 1983, but he never returned home.
Roger was about 62 years old when he disappeared. His wife has since died.
Stansbury confirmed that forensic evidence so far confirms that the skeletal remains found were of a man in his 60s. He said no foul play has been indicated in the case.
District Attorney Mike Harson helped Roger's wife settle a claim on a life insurance policy in her husband's name. She was the beneficiary, but the insurance company wouldn't release the money because his body could not be produced, said Barna Haynes, Harson's office administrator when he was in private practice.
Haynes said the woman had two sons, Earl and Troy Shay, from a previous marriage and Roger's son, Louis Emery Roger Jr., who was very close to his father, Haynes said.
"It was rough for her not knowing where her husband was," she said. "Several people thought he had just left, but she knew something had happened to Louis because he was so devoted to his son."
Around 1986, Harson finally filed a petition to declare the man legally dead to settle the insurance claim.
But Haynes said the woman did not want to give up looking for her husband.
"Even after he was declared legally dead, she always thought he would one day walk through the door back to her," Haynes said.
Both Haynes and Harson said they spent several years after the disappearance trying to help find Roger as the sheriff's office continued to investigate the case to no avail.
A few months after the disappearance, Harson and a friend even went to the Vermilion River with sonar equipment very close to the area where the car was found.
"We might have been about 100 yards off from where the car was found," Harson said.