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Remains From 1970s Found in Sunken Cars

Oklahoma officials say all 6 died by accidental drowning
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 26, 2014 2:50 PM CDT
Remains From 1970s Found in Sunken Cars
An image from a CNN report on the case.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – Oklahoma police have solved a decades-old cold case with the help of sonar equipment and a little luck, WMAZ-TV reports. During a sonar training exercise last year, highway troopers found bodies in two deeply corroded cars submerged in a western Oklahoma lake—and now medical officials say the remains belong to six people who went missing in 1969 and 1970. One set of remains belongs to John Porter, Cleburn Hammack, and Nora Duncan, three adults who vanished in 1969 after their 1952 Chevrolet was seen needing a "push" to get the engine rolling, CNN reports. "It's been a crazy year; it's been a blessed year," says Porter's granddaughter. "It's been a relief. It's been closure. Any trace or any thought that anybody would have, we were looking. We never gave up hope."

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The other car, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, contained 18-year-olds Thomas Rios and Leah Johnson as well as 16-year-old Jimmy Williams, who said they were going to a football game before they disappeared in 1970. Williams had just gotten the white-top Camaro, which was "considered a primo muscle car back then," the Blaze reports. "And what better way to help break in his new wheels than by taking a drive with a couple of friends?" A local newspaper editor says Johnson, a Native American related to Sitting Bull, was admired as a sort of Indian princess. All six deaths are considered accidental drownings, possibly caused by a road that narrows as it reaches a dock, Reuters reports. The cars were found near the dock, beside each other, submerged in roughly 12 feet of water. (Read more missing person stories.)

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