Society

Six Bodies Found In Lake Solves Decades-Old Disappearance (Video)

| by Kit Bryer

Two submerged cars were pulled from the bottom of an Oklahoma lake after 40 years and found to contain the remains of six people, leading to the closure of several different decades-old disappearance cases (video below).

Highway Patrolmen discovered the vehicles at the bottom of Foss Lake in September 2013 during a training session with new sonar equipment. The two cars, a 1952 Chevrolet and a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, were found right next to each other facing opposite directions and, little did the officers know at the time, they would help solve multiple disappearances.

The Oklahoma Medical Examiner's office was able to use DNA evidence to identify all six bodies, after more than a year, in October 2014. 

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The remains of John Alva Porter, 69, Cleburn Hammack, 42, and Nora Marie Duncan, 58, were found in the 1952 Chevrolet. They disappeared in 1969.

The remains of Jimmy Allen Williams, 16, Leah Gail Johnson, 18, and Thomas Michael Rios, 18, were found in the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro. They disappeared in 1970.

The disappearance of the three young locals -- Williams, Johnson and Rios -- in November 1970 shook the town of Sayre, Oklahoma, whose residents never forgot the tragedy and held a candlelight vigil in remembrance as recently as 2009. 

"It was a big ordeal you know I mean they just disappeared, no traces of them," Sayre resident Wilna Plummer told KFOR. "All these years, they weren't very far from home."

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Porter, found in the 1952 Chevrolet, was never forgotten by his family, who spent all these years searching for him. Porter's granddaughter, Debbie McManaman, was 13 at the time of the disappearance. 

"It's been so long; 44 years," McManaman told CNN after the vehicles were discovered. "There are a lot of things in between there we can't answer because we don't know. His bank account was there, his house was locked up. Utilities were on. He just walked away."

McManaman's father, Porter's son, was 85 years old and suffering from dementia when he spoke to CNN in 2013 about his father's disappearance, saying, "Still looking for him. But this is going to help me a whole lot."

Porter's family was relieved and ready for closure when they learned of the confirmation that it was their John Alva Porter after all. 

"Any trace or any thought that anybody would have, we were looking," McManaman told KWTV. "We never gave up hope, never gave up hope."

The cause of death in all six cases was determined to most likely be due to accidental drowning.

Sources: KFOR, CNNKWTV / Photo credit: Pixabay, AP via CNN

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