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Author Topic: Mystery in Oklahoma  (Read 823 times)
Jack T. Cross
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« on: September 19, 2013, 09:22:16 AM »


Troopers in Oklahoma stumble upon six skeletons in two cars:
***************************

Two decades-old cars containing six skeletons were recovered from a lake in a remote, sparsely populated area of southwestern Oklahoma, officials said Tuesday potentially solving a pair of cold cases that have bedeviled local authorities for years.

Oklahoma Highway Patrol officials stumbled upon the mud-covered cars a blue 1969 Chevrolet Camaro and a 1950s-era car while testing new sonar equipment during a training exercise last week at Foss Lake, near the tiny town of Foss (population: 157) in Custer County, authorities said.

Two cars containing bodies of six people missing for decades were recovered from the bottom of a lake in Oklahoma. KFOR's Courtney Francisco reports.

After initially having reported that five bodies were discovered, Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples told The Elk City Daily News late Tuesday that a sixth set of remains had been found.

Officials at the scene were able to identify one of the three bodies in the Camaro, but no names will be released until family members are notified, the State Bureau of Investigation and the sheriff's office said.

Trooper George Hoyle, who was driving the boat that located the vehicles Sept. 10, told the Daily News that the two cars were side by side in about 12 feet of water.

"On the first pass, we found both cars," Hoyle said but officers weren't aware of the remains, and the cars remained at the bottom of the lake until Tuesday.

State troopers discovered the two cars Tuesday as they were training with new sonar equipment.

The Camaro is believed to be associated with the disappearance of three students at Sayre High School: Jimmy Allen Williams 16, Thomas Michael Rios, 18, and Leah Gail Johnson 18. They were last seen on Nov. 20, 1970, in Jimmy's car a blue 1969 Camaro, which was never found, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, a bureau of the Justice Department's National Institute of Justice.

The federal database notes speculation at the time that the teens, who'd said they were going to a football game in Elk City, may have detoured to go hunting at Foss Lake, instead.

The second vehicle appears to be associated with the disappearance of a couple last seen in Canute, about 10 miles south of the lake, in the early 1960s, Peoples said. He said he had no further information about that case beyond long-ago-told stories. The missing persons database records no open cases earlier than 1969 in Canute or the surrounding county.

"In 1973, I worked for Beckham and Custer County as a state trooper, and I heard rumors that sometime in the early '60s there were two or three people in a car, and they were last seen in Canute," Peoples told the Elk City newspaper. "They were headed for Foss Lake and never seen again."

Peoples asked anyone with information about the case to get in touch as soon as possible at (580) 323-1616.

From Oklahoma NewsWire
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« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2013, 12:24:20 PM »

Intriguing case(s).  It will be interesting to know the details of the outcome of the investigation.  We'll probably see it on Dateline or something.


Such a shame
From this:





to this  Sad

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Jack T. Cross
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« Reply #2 on: September 19, 2013, 07:36:42 PM »

^It was pretty much new when it went in, too, Princess.

(The people in that car may have detoured to the lake area to hunt, so it sounds like they may have been armed. Will be an interesting story to follow.)
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« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2013, 04:25:29 PM »

FOSS, Okla.

An Oklahoma sheriff says the families of six people who have been missing for more than 40 years should be able to gain some closure with the discovery of cars and bones believed to be connected to the cases.

What still lingers, though, are questions about how the skeletal remains and two vehicles ended up submerged in Custer County's Foss Lake, said Sheriff Bruce Peoples. He's hopeful the answers will come, helping solve a pair of mysteries that have haunted residents for more than a generation.

"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."

Were the victims in the two separate cold cases murdered and dumped in the lake about 100 miles west of Oklahoma City? Or did they take a wrong turn, drive off the edge of the boat ramp and end up submerged?

"It's way too early to tell at this point," Peoples said. "We'll treat it as a crime until we're able to determine it's a simple car wreck."

Divers conducting a training exercise with sonar equipment found the 1969 Camaro and early 1950s Chevrolet at the bottom of Foss Lake on Tuesday. The vehicles were in about 12 feet of water about 50 feet from the end of a boat ramp. Remains were inside both cars.

Missing persons reports show three teenagers from Sayre in nearby Beckham County Leah Johnson, Michael Rios and Jimmy Williams disappeared in 1970 while heading to a high school football game in Williams' new 1969 Camaro.

Another missing persons report from 1969 indicates two men and a woman also from the area disappeared and were last seen in a 1950s Chevrolet, Peoples said.

"These vehicles match those missing persons reports real close," the sheriff said Wednesday as investigators combed through what remained of the rusty, mud-covered vehicles.

He said it was entirely possible that the victims simply drove into Foss Lake and drowned.

"We know that to happen, even if you know your way around. It can happen that quick," he said.

Still, some locals cling to the theory that the three teens ran across some dangerous people and ended up getting killed.

"Everyone suspected foul play," said Dayva Spitzer, publisher of The Sayre Record and a longtime resident. "They've been talking about it for 43 years.

"I think everybody is hoping there's closure now. But there's still more questions than answers."

The teens' disappearance gripped the town for years.

"I think the kids were frightened by it, and we didn't talk about it much," said Gayla Splinter, a clerk at a Sayre law office who lived in nearby Erick when the teens went missing. "It's always been a mystery."

Peoples said he was confident the Camaro held the remains of the three teens. Authorities were not as clear about what the second vehicle contained.

The state medical examiner's office said it believed the remains of six people were recovered overall.

Tim Porter of Enid said he believed the remains in that vehicle could be those of his grandfather, John Albert Porter, who disappeared along with two other people in 1969.

"Forty-something years of wondering who or why," Porter said. "If it is my grandfather in there, it's a gift."

Porter said he offered up a DNA sample to help authorities determine the identities of the victims, a process Peoples said could take as long as a year.

The bones were being sent to the medical examiner's office to identify the victims and determine how they died.

Found on CSMonitor and AP
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2013/0919/Cars-in-Foss-Lake-shed-light-on-Okla.-cold-cases
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« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2013, 04:44:06 PM »

FOSS, Oklahoma:

For six families, the skeletal remains found in two cars submerged in an Oklahoma lake can solve decades-old mysteries of vanished loved ones.

For at least one family, their loved one was just yards away and 12 feet deep in a lake where they skied, swam and ate for so many years.

Debbie McManamon has been haunted by the disappearance of her grandfather, who vanished 44 years ago when she was just 13 years old.

When she heard about the two cars and six sets of remains recovered from the bottom of Foss Lake in Oklahoma, she said she knew it was her grandfather.

Authorities have not yet processed DNA to make a positive match, but McManamon, 57, of Dill City, Okla., said the "puzzle fits together."

"They pretty well confirmed it," she said. "All the evidence, everything fits as far as the time, the vehicle, the people that were with him."

She heard about the cars from a friend who sent her a news story on Facebook.

"I went, 'Oh my goodness,'" McManamon told ABCNews.com. "I called my husband, he drove home and we drove up to the lake and everything started unfolding."

"I just walked down there and they stopped me and they just looked at me like, 'What do you need?'" she said. "And I said, 'I think that could be my grandfather's car. He's been missing since April 8, 1969.'"

The last time McManamon saw her grandfather John Porter was when she and her parents went to see him for a weekly visit.

"By Friday, he was gone," she said. "He had just disappeared. His house was intact, his utilities were turned on, his money was in the bank. There were no disturbances [at his house]."

The family knew something was not right. McManamon's father and uncle notified local police and the family put Porter's photo in an Amarillo newspaper.

"We didn't feel like he would just take off and leave," she said. "We never thought that he would do that. We thought maybe there could be foul play."

She said authorities helped as much as they could with limited resources, but the case eventually went cold.

"My dad never gave up," she said. "As soon as his job was over, he'd come home, grab something to eat, would get my mom in the car and would drive and drive and drive [looking for Porter]."

She would think of her grandfather every June 6, his birthday, and every time she drove by where he used to live.

She imagined different scenarios of what may have happened and wondered if her grandfather had been robbed and killed by a hitchhiker or living as a John Doe in a nursing home with dementia.

But none of those situations felt right. She and her family had a different theory.

"As the years rolled by -- we're not too far from the lake, maybe 20-some miles -- we'd think, Yeah, I think he's in the lake," she said.

Her kids swam and skied at the lake. She has taken her grandchildren there to feed the fish and the ducks. They have eaten at a little restaurant 200 yards from where the rusty and mud-caked car was pulled up this week.

"It's a terrible thing to know that they were there for 44 years," she said. McManamon's father is now 85 years old and suffers from dementia. She has explained the discovery to him and he has been to the lake, but he's struggling with the news.

It is believed that her grandfather was in the car with two friends who also disappeared, a man and a woman.

That second man in the car is believed to be a man named Clebern Hammack, according to his cousin Cletius Hammack.

Hammack, 67, now lives in Fresno, Calif., and heard about the cars in Oklahoma from his son who was researching diving online and stumbled upon a news article about the find.

He didn't know anything about his father's lost cousin but recognized that the lake was in the town where his father grew up and sent him the article.

"I thought, Oh, my gosh. I looked at the 50s Chevy that was there and I thought, you know, he left in a Chevy. I just kind of put two and two together and that was my first inkling that it was him."

Hammack got in touch with local authorities and said everything he told them matched up to what they knew. A DNA test has yet to be done to confirm that the remains are those of Clebern Hammack.

He was last seen in 1969 when he was leaving a fill-in job at a restaurant where Cletius Hammack's mother also worked. On the day he disappeared, they both left the restaurant at the same time.

"She got in her car. He got in a car with a man and a woman and that was the last anyone ever saw of him," Hammack said of his cousin. "He just vanished. That was it."

The family had no idea what happened. They knew that Clebern had received his paycheck that day and there were rumors that maybe someone hit him over the head and dumped his body. The rumor was that he was in Foss Lake.

"It was extremely hard on his mother and up to the day she died, she was about 100 and she really thought he was coming back and that he was alive," Cletius Hammack said. "She's the one that never got over it."

She died in the 1990s, still thinking that her son was alive.

Both families are now coming to terms with the discoveries and grateful for the closure.

"It's a happy day for all of us," McManamon said of her family. "It's closure. We're going to take his remains and go to Elk City and put him close to his sister."

Hammack said that even though his family had mostly accepted that Clebern was dead, the discovery was "bittersweet."

"We're glad we found him," he said. "Some of my cousins have talked about maybe having his bones cremated and putting him with his mother so that she finally has him."

Authorities are still investigating how the cars may have gotten into the water and whether there may have been foul play involved. A Google satellite map view of the area where the cars were discovered just three feet apart does not show any roads very close to the water. Officials believe the cars might have gone into the water a year-and-a-half apart.

The cars were discovered when Oklahoma Highway Patrol's lake patrol division was testing new sonar equipment last week in Foss Lake in Custer County, Okla., when they detected some unusual echoes that indicated the presence of large metal objects under the water.

Three feet away, they found a second car with more skeletal remains in it. They have since recovered six skulls and matching bones.

Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples said the second cars might belong to Jimmy Williams, 16, who was reported missing in 1970. His car was a 1969 blue Chevrolet Camaro, which looked similar to one of the cars that were recovered.

He was last known to be driving around with his friends Thomas Rios, 18, and Leah Johnson, 18, and none of them have been seen since.

Found on ABC:
http://abcnews.go.com/US/oklahoma-sunken-cars-mysteries-solved-families-vanished-relatives/story?id=20309442


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« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2013, 04:45:17 PM »

Freaky man.  Cool post.
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« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2013, 04:53:55 PM »

Freaky man.  Cool post.

Yeah, bro. There's just 'something' about this story for me, too. Can't quite describe it.
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« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2013, 09:26:56 AM »

It's like that lake in this seasons "The Killing". Some dude dropping bodies in that bitch.
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Jack T. Cross
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« Reply #8 on: September 25, 2013, 09:31:02 PM »

It's like that lake in this seasons "The Killing". Some dude dropping bodies in that bitch.

Since the cars were found with the remains of the people inside, 50 feet from the boat ramp at the time of discovery, it becomes difficult to imagine how they could have gotten there but to have driven.

The story is definitely open to suggestions, though, if anyone has them.
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« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2013, 10:23:22 AM »

So...what would be the alternate idea to that? The people were killed, outside the car before being placed back inside the car; or killed inside the car, presumably by each getting shot, before the car was pushed down the boat ramp.

Determining whether these cars were in gear, would be a top priority. Had someone tried to allow the car to pull itself while in gear, the water would have shorted the electrical and ignition as soon as it filled the engine compartment (of course), and the car would have resisted movement.
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« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2013, 08:22:49 PM »

...so unless the cars are found in neutral, I suppose it'll be rightly determined these were accidents.

Seems a little weird, with three people in each car, that no one would understand they were about to propel themselves into the water. But it does happen. And the kids in the new Camaro were likely candidates to have been speeding out of their minds, too, no doubt about it.

So that's that, I guess. It's been an interesting story.
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