Credit: Sue Ogrocki / AP
Law enforcement officials from multiple agencies examine the two cars pulled from Foss Lake, in Foss, Okla., on Sept. 18. The Oklahoma State Medical Examiner's Office says authorities have recovered skeletal remains of multiple bodies in the Oklahoma lake where the cars were recovered.
Investigators think they know the identities of all six people whose skeletal remains were found this week in two cars at the bottom of an Oklahoma lake, saying Thursday they were following active leads in two 40-year-old missing persons cases.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol officials stumbled upon the mud-covered cars — a blue 1969 Chevrolet Camaro and a dark 1952 Chevrolet — 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 have already communicated with relatives of three teenagers — Jimmy Allen Williams 16, Thomas Michael Rios, 18, and Leah Gail Johnson, 18, all of Sayre — believed to have been in the Camaro.
From left, Jimmy Allen Williams, Leah Gail Johnson and Thomas Michael Rios, three teens missing from Sayre, Okla., since 1970.
On Thursday, The Daily Elk Citian reported that sheriff's officials were "actively following" a lead in the disappearance of Nora Marie King Duncan of Canute, who disappeared April 8, 1969, at age 58, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.
Sheriff Bruce Peoples said Duncan was believed to have been with two friends, Cleburn Hammock and John Alva Porter, 69, of Rogers Mills County. Little information was immediately available about Hammock relatives, but Porter's grandchildren said they believed the third body was that of their grandfather.
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Howard Sampier, the retired sheriff of Beckham County, where the three teenagers lived, told the Elk Citian that authorities began searching for them the day they were reported missing in 1970 but that "we never had any sort of lead or idea about the Foss Lake area."
Peoples said none of the bodies in the Camaro showed signs of trauma. on first inspection, but he added: "It's way too early to tell at this point. We'll treat it as a crime until we're able to determine it's a simple car wreck."
First published September 19 2013, 4:06 PM