Two decades-old cars containing five skeletons were recovered Tuesday from a lake in a remote, sparsely populated area of southwestern Oklahoma, officials said — 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 late-1950s-era car — while testing new sonar equipment during a training exercise at Foss Lake, near the tiny town of Foss (population: 157) in Custer County, authorities said.
Officials at the scene were able to identify one of the three bodies in the Camaro, The Elk City Daily News reported. But no names will be released until family members are notified, the State Bureau of Investigation and the county sheriff's office said.
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, Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples said in a statement. He asked anyone with information about that case to get in touch as soon as possible at (580) 323-1616.
Peoples gave no further information on the 1960s case. The missing persons database records no open cases earlier than 1969 in Canute or the surrounding county.