Nightly News   |  September 18, 2013

Watery tomb discovered in Oklahoma lake

Oklahoma Highway Patrol divers found two cars side-by-side, sitting 12 feet underwater near an old marina. It’s evidence that may help solve a decades-old missing persons case. NBC’s Janet Shamlian reports.

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>>> a handful of families and a lot of neighbors have been wondering off and on for decades how their loved ones, daughters, fathers, sons and brothers could have vanished without a trace. tonight there finally may be answers because of old cars just pulled out of a lake after being submerged for decades. our story tonight from nbc's janet shamlian in foss lake, oklahoma .

>> reporter: highway patrol offers were training using sonar technology on foss lake when they made a startling discovery. caked in mud what was a teen dream at the time -- a 1969 cam row. nearby a collectible 52 chevy sitting nearly side by side in 12 feet of water.

>> my expectation is they were probably stolen vehicles and we were probably going to hook onto them and get them out.

>> reporter: they were a watery tomb for six people -- three in each vehicle. this woman believes her grandfather may have been in the chevy.

>> i can remember my dad getting in the car, taking my mom. they would look and look. any trace.

>> reporter: the camaro may be this one, belonging to 16-year-old jimmy williams . he and two friends were last seen in it in the fall of 1970 , headed to a football game . it is believed they may have headed to the lake instead. they vanished that night.

>> in all these years they weren't far from home .

>> reporter: one set of remains has been identified but not made public. the medical examiner cautions the others could take months, if not years.

>> i think the families will get closure like, okay, that's what happened. we can close that chapter in our lives.

>> reporter: an unexpected find in an oklahoma lake. they re-open missing persons cases long gone cold, leaving families in a small town once again in the middle of a mystery. janet shamlian , nbc news, oklahoma .