Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Foss Lake mystery: Skeletons found inside vintage cars pulled from US lake

Find could solve disappearances of missing teens in 1970 and three adults in late 1950s

This Sept. 17, 2013, photo shows two cars recovered from Foss Lake, Okla. The Oklahoma State Medical Examiners Office says authorities have recovered skeletal remains of multiple bodies in the Oklahoma lake where the two decades-old cars were pulled from the water by a dive team. (AP Photo/Daily Elk Citian, Laura Eastes)
This Sept. 17, 2013, photo shows two cars recovered from Foss Lake, Okla. The Oklahoma State Medical Examiners Office says authorities have recovered skeletal remains of multiple bodies in the Oklahoma lake where the two decades-old cars were pulled from the water by a dive team. (AP Photo/Daily Elk Citian, Laura Eastes)
In this Sept. 17, 2013, photo, officials investigate the scene at Foss Lake, Okla. where two decades-old cars were pulled from the water by a dive team. The Oklahoma State Medical Examiners Office says authorities have recovered skeletal remains of multiple bodies in the Oklahoma lake where the cars were recovered. (AP Photo/The Elk City Daily News, Larissa Graham)
In this Sept. 17, 2013, photo, officials investigate the scene at Foss Lake, Okla. where two decades-old cars were pulled from the water by a dive team. The Oklahoma State Medical Examiners Office says authorities have recovered skeletal remains of multiple bodies in the Oklahoma lake where the cars were recovered. (AP Photo/The Elk City Daily News, Larissa Graham)

The mysterious disappearances of a group of teenagers in 1970 and three adults in the late 1950s may finally be solved, after two vintage cars containing six skeletons were discovered at the bottom of an Oklahoma lake.

The two vehicles, which are believed to have plunged into the water decades apart, were only found by chance after a group of highway patrol officers decided to try out new sonar equipment at Foss Lake near Elk City last Friday.

As they tested their technology, the officers were shocked to spot two rust-covered Chevrolets – one from 1969 and the other from the 1950s - buried in the mud on the lake bed.

When the vehicles were eventually pulled from the lake, officers made the grisly discovery of three skeletons inside each vehicle.

 16-year-old Jimmy Allen Williams and 18-year-olds Thomas Michael Rios and Leah Gail Johnson disappeared after going for a drive

Authorities have not yet established the identity of all the remains, although they say one skeleton from the 1969 Chevrolet Camaro has been identified, with a public announcement delayed until all close relatives are informed.

They did admit, however, that a clear connection between the Camaro and three teenagers who went missing in 1970 had been established.

 Authorities admit a clear connection between the Camaro and three teenagers who went missing in 1970 had been established.

16-year-old Jimmy Allen Williams and 18-year-olds Thomas Michael Rios and Leah Gail Johnson disappeared after going for a drive in Jimmy’s blue Camaro on November 20 of that year.

They were initially believed to have gone to watch an American football match in the hours before their disappearance, although it is now thought the group may have changed their minds and headed to Foss Lake to hunt.

 16-year-old Jimmy Allen Williams and his then brand new 1969 Chevrolet Camaro

Betsy Randolph, spokeswoman for Oklahoma Highway Patrol, said officers initially assumed the vehicles had been stolen and dumped, and only made the connections to potential cold cases once the remains were found.

She added: “We're hoping this is going to bring some sort of closure to some families out there who have been waiting to hear about missing people... If that's the case, then we're thrilled we were able to bring some sort of closure to those families.”

Police are believed to have linked the occupants of the second car, another Chevrolet, to the disappearance of a 69-year-old man and his two friends who went missing in Oklahoma at some point in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

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