Published September 18, 2013
Oklahoma state law enforcement officials have pulled two vehicles from a lake that may contain the bodies of six people listed as missing for decades.
The Daily Elk Citian reported that the vehicles -- which were recovered from Foss Lake in western Oklahoma Tuesday afternoon -- appear to match a Camaro missing with three Sayre teenagers since 1970 and an older Chevrolet with two Canute residents missing since the late 1950s or early 1960s.
The Camaro was from 1969 and belonged to 16-year-old Jimmy Williams, KOKH reports. The car and Williams were last seen on Nov. 20, 1970, along with two of Williams' friends, 18-year-old Thomas Rios and 18-year-old Leah Johnson.
The second vehicle, a Chevrolet dating from the 1950s, may be linked to the disappearance of a couple from the town of Canute in the early 1960s. The couple were last seen heading to the lake, the Elk City Daily News reports, according to News9. A third body was found in the car, but authorities have not identified all of the remains.
Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples is asking for anyone who recalls any information about that cases to contact police, the Daily Elk Citian reports.
"It's just been under water for 40 years. It's a mucky mess," Peoples told KWEY radio.
The Oklahoma State Medical Examiner said could take anywhere from a few days to years to determine the identities of the remains, depending on the condition that the bodies are in, KFOR reports.
Debbie McManamman believes her grandfather, 69-year-old John Alva Porter, was among the bodies found in the Chevrolet vehicle.
“I mean, he was just gone, ” she told the station. “No trace at all. His money was in the bank, his house was intact and he was gone. So over 40 years we’ve been looking for him.”
Authorities discovered the cars by accident. Betsy Randolph, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, told the Associated Press dive teams were at Foss Lake conducting training with sonar when they came upon the vehicles last week.
"So they went back and did a scheduled dive today and were going to recover the cars. When they pulled the cars out of the water, the first one that came out they found bones in the car," she said.
When they pulled the second car out, another set of bones was discovered. The divers then went back in the water and searched around and found a skull, she said.
"We thought it was just going to be stolen vehicles and that's not what it turned out to be, obviously," Randolph said.
She said the Highway Patrol is hoping the discovery will offer some relief to families who may have gone decades wondering where a missing loved one was.
"We're hoping these individuals, that this is going to bring some sort of closure to some families out there who have been waiting to hear about missing people," she said. "If that's the case, then we're thrilled we were able to bring some sort of closure to those families."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.