Oklahoma Says Bodies Found In Lake Solve Decades-Old Cold Cases

Bodies found in a lake in Oklahoma solve two cold cases dating back to 1969 and 1970. The cases involved a trio who disappeared while driving near Oklahoma’s Foss Lake.

Six bodies were found in two separate cars at Foss Lake last September when police were testing new sonar equipment. Reuters reports that authorities identified two of the six bodies as 16-year-old Jimmy Allen Williams, who went missing in 1970, and 42-year-old Cleburn Hammack, who disappeared in 1969.

The Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s office is still working to identify the other four bodies found in the lake.

Williams, Thomas Michael Rios, 18, and Leah Gail Johnson, 18, were last seen in Williams’ 1969 Camaro on their way to a football game in Elk City on November 20, 1970.

Hammack was last seen in a 1952 Chevrolet with John Alva Porter, 69, and Nora Marie Duncan, 58, on April 8, 1969. A July 1969 newspaper article published in Oklahoma states that Porter, Duncan, and Hammack were last seen “when their 1953 green Chevrolet car was given a push to help it get started.”

All six were placed in the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

Williams purchased his Camaro just six days before he went missing. While they were going to a football game, CNN reports that friends suspected they went hunting instead. Williams was a hunger and two rifles were found rusted and corroded in the Camaro.

Johnson was Native American and, according to Dayva Spitzer, publisher of the Sayre Record and Beckham County Democrat, was said to be a descendant of Sitting Bull, who famously led warriors to defeat George Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

The positive identities were found after family reference sample DNA was collected from the presumed families and sent to a DNA reference lab. The names of the remaining bodies will be released when testing is complete and their families have been notified. However, given the identities of the first two bodies found in the lake, the rest of the remains likely belong to Johnson, Rios, Porter, and Duncan.

The rusty cars were found three feet apart in 12 feet of water near Foss Lake’s main concrete boat dock. A road narrows into the dock, which could explain how the cars ended up in the water. After a sonar test revealed shapes at the bottom of the lake, divers were sent down, where they discovered the cars, covered by mud and rust.

Betsy Randolph, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, recalled, “It was quite a shock when the first car came out and we saw what was in the driver’s seat.”

While only two of the bodies found in the lake have been found, Oklahoma’s medical examiner’s office will likely release the rest of the identities soon.

[Image: New York Post]