When Leah Johnson, Michael Rios, and Jimmy Williams all jumped in Williams' new 1969 Camaro and headed for a high school football game in 1970, no one could have imagined that it was the last time the three teenagers would be seen alive and thriving. The three friends from Sayre, Oklahoma, were soon reported missing, but now, 43 years later, the cold case may finally become a closed case.
The '69 Camaro and an early '50s Chevy were found at the bottom of Foss Lake on Tuesday when divers were conducting a training exercise using sonar equipment. Both were found about twelve feet under water and 50 feet out from a boat ramp, and officials have said that the remains of six people - three in each car - have been recovered.
The early '50s Chevy is thought to be that of a couple who disappeared near the lake in '69, in an incident unrelated to the teenagers' disappearance.
While officials have no clue yet as to how the vehicles ended up in the watery grave, they are treating it as a crime until they can rule it out as a simple accident. Could each have been victims of a deranged murderer? Were there contributing factors as to how both cars ended up in the same area over a year apart? Or is it just simply a terrible coincidence that the deaths of these six people collided in that lake?
Many residents have always believed that the three teens crossed paths with some kind of dangerous person and ended up killed.
Dayva Spitzer, longtime resident and publisher of The Sayre Records said, "Everyone suspected foul play. They've been talking about it for 43 years."
Sheriff Bruce Peoples explained, "Now the family will know, and that's what we look at as an important part of our job. It's going to close a very unhappy chapter in their lives, but nothing any worse than having those lingering questions and wondering what happened."
The medical examiner's office retains the remains in an effort to identify them and determine how they died, which could take up to a year. Tom Porter of Enid provided a DNA sample to see if any of the remains match up with his grandfather, John Albert Porter, who disappeared in '69 with two other people.
"Forty-something years of wondering who or why," Porter said. "If it is my grandfather in there, it's a gift."
Thank you to Larissa Graham of The Elk City Daily News for the photos. For updates on this story, check out the Elk City Daily News Facebook page.
Source: ABC News