Two cars sitting side-by-side in Foss Lake in Oklahoma have been there decades, authorities say, and they could hold the answer to at least a couple of cold cases. Six sets of skeletal remains have been found -- three skeletons per car -- inside the vehicles.
The Associated Press reported (via Yahoo News) Sept. 19 that two rusted vehicles were pulled out of Foss Lake in Custer County, which is situated in western Oklahoma, the second county east of the Texas Panhandle. Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples now has the task of attempting to piece together how the cars in Foss Lake got there and just who it is that happened to be in the vehicles when they became submerged.
The sheriff talked of closure for those families that have wondered for over 40 years what became of certain missing relatives.
"Now the family will know, and that's what we look at as an important part of our job," Peoples said. "It's going to close a very unhappy chapter in their lives, but nothing any worse than having those lingering questions and wondering what happened."
Both cars were found about fifty feet from the boat ramp that leads into Foss Lake. They rested just three feet apart.
Questions about the possibility of murder have arisen. So has questions of simple accidental death -- a wrong turn at night, a roll down the embankment after the driver thought he set the brake, an accelerated plunge into the water while goofing around. The full answers may never be known.
Divers found the 1969 Camaro and early 1950s Chevrolet at the bottom of Foss Lake on Tuesday. They were conducting a training exercise with sonar equipment when they came across the vehicles submerged in about twelve feet of water.
Sheriff Peoples said that the vehicles appear to fit the descriptions of two missing persons cases, one from 1969, the other from 1970. The vehicles fit the cold case reports, as does the number of occupants in each car.
"These vehicles match those missing persons reports real close," Peoples said Wednesday.
In fact, the case of three missing teens has held sway over the nearby town of Sayre for 43 years. According to Dayva Spitzer, publisher of The Sayre Record and a longtime resident of the area, speculation has always ran to the extreme, with many theories positing that the teens had run across some dangerous people and had been killed.
Sheriff Peoples said he believed the Camaro held the remains of the three missing teens. The three -- 16-year-old Jimmy Allen Williams, the driver, and 18-year-old Thomas Rios and 18-year-old Leah Johnson -- were last seen on Nov. 20, 1970.
The bones have been sent to a medical examiner's office for further study and identification.
KFOR-TV in Oklahoma City reports that the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner says it could take anywhere from days to years to determine the identities of the skeletons.
There is also reason to believe that the bones found in the Chevy belong to John “Alvie” Porter. His grandchildren say he disappeared in 1970 and the muddied car pulled from Foss Lake may be the one he was driving. He was last seen with two other people.
Albert Porter says he was 10 years old the last time he saw his grandfather. He said he remembered how difficult the Chevy was to start and that it often took a push to get it going. The car was always giving his grandfather problems and he says his death might have been the result of a tragic accident.
Several family members in the Sayre, Okla., area have volunteered DNA samples to help in identifying the remains.