The Foss Lake Mystery

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#1
A new thread on the discovery of six skeletons, three to a drowned Chevvie, in Foss Lake, Ohlahoma, USA. One trio from the late 1950s and one from 1970.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/w...0-and-three-adults-in-late-1950s-8823930.html

The Foss Lake mystery: Six skeletons found inside two vintage cars pulled from lake could solve separate disappearances of a group of teenagers in 1970 and three adults in late 1950s

Two vehicles only found by chance after a group of highway patrol officers decided to try out new sonar equipment

The Independent. John Hall. 18 September 2013


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

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.

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.

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.
Two cold cases for the price of one. Coincidental accidents, or was there foul play involved? Is there a connection?
 

ChrisBoardman

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#3
If you type Foss Lake, Ohlahoma, USA into google maps you can see that many roads go perpendicular straight to it. If someone didn't know the lake was there they would drive straight into it at speed.
 

EnolaGaia

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#4
There are too few details available so far. The video at:

http://www.ksdk.com/news/article/398311 ... -Okla-lake

... shows both cars sitting at one site, but there's no mention of how close they had lain on the lake bottom. The scene shows both vehicles sitting at the head of a boat ramp, but this may only indicate they were both brought out of the water at the same ramp.

I notice the front ends of both vehicles appear intact and undamaged - suggesting they didn't wreck and roll into the water (fly off a bridge, etc.). Other photos from other sites show the Camaro with its hood ripped up / open. I presume that damage was caused by attempts to open the car from the front.

If both cars had been lying on the bottom just off that boat ramp, it would suggest two tragic roll-offs a decade apart. Driving down a lane and seeing it's a boat ramp too late, or having a parking brake fail when parked on a boat ramp, have been common causes for accidents. I actually witnessed an instance of the latter (fortunately involving an unoccupied car) back in the 1960's at a TVA lake in Tennessee.
 

escargot

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#6
What a fascinating find. Reminds me of a lake somewhere in America that was drained a few years ago leaving a muddy bed littered with stolen cars and, I believe, more than one discarded firearm.

I'm wondering if the sonar equipment will now be deployed in other lakes and deep rivers in the hope of clearing up more mysteries.

There certainly is a novel in it. Stephen King perhaps, or Martin Cruz Smith. 8)
 

EnolaGaia

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#7
One of the local news sources mentioned the pair of cars had been found near 'the marina'.

If you go to Google Maps (enter 'Foss Lake', select the entry for Oklahoma or OK), and zoom in on the southeast corner of the lake, you'll find:

- A 'Marina Road' leading to a boat ramp that matches the scene of the news photos
- This 'marina' is situated in a little inlet or embayment that opens out into the larger lake
- Right next (east) of the marina inlet is an earthen dam with a road crossing its crest
- This road has a slight dog-leg curve at its southern end - with long straightaways north and south of it.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn both wrecks were the result of high speed on the straightaway and losing control at the little dog-leg curve.
 

EnolaGaia

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#8
On the other hand ...

If you zoom in on the marina inlet (Google Maps; satellite view) you'll see a small white boat inside the marina inlet, cruising southwest toward the boat ramp.

Zoom in all the way on that boat, then look south of it. There are two dark spots side by side near the point off the boat's port side.

The news stories claimed the cars were side by side in only 12 feet of water.

I wonder ... :shock:
 

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#9
EnolaGaia said:
On the other hand ...

If you zoom in on the marina inlet (Google Maps; satellite view) you'll see a small white boat inside the marina inlet, cruising southwest toward the boat ramp.

Zoom in all the way on that boat, then look south of it. There are two dark spots side by side near the point off the boat's port side.

The news stories claimed the cars were side by side in only 12 feet of water.

I wonder ... :shock:
Well observed.
I'm wondering if the water level was low during a long hot summertime, and these people parked their cars there for a beach party. They may well have slept in the car overnight, and then it rained...
 

EnolaGaia

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#10
I tend to doubt the 'parked in place; got flooded' scenario. If the lake level hasn't dropped as much as 12 feet in the last 40 years (to where the vehicles might have been made visible) I doubt it suddenly rose the 4 or 5 feet necessary to submerge either of the vehicles all at once.

I only noted those 2 dark spots because they're not far off the boat ramp to which the vehicles were dragged and because they're roughly the same size as the boat.

If those spots were in fact the submerged cars I'd suspect both accidentally drove or rolled off the boat ramp and drifted along pretty much the same courses before settling to the bottom.

Forty / fifty years is plenty long enough for things to have changed around the lakeshore. For all I know, the marina wasn't even there when the first accident occurred.
 

EnolaGaia

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#11
The updated local TV (KFOR) site has a slideshow of photos.

An aerial photo confirms the 'marina' is the one I referenced in my recent posts.

The caption on this one (#4) says, "Foss Lake boat ramp in marina where cars were found."

... which seems to indicate they were in fact found right there in the marina inlet.

Another thing I noticed ... The windows in the cars appear to have been rolled up, and the windshields and rear windows appear undamaged (at least until the investigators began tearing into them).

This would be consistent with occupants being unconscious, paralyzed by panic, or not knowing of the advisability of rolling down windows to equalize pressure on both sides of the doors ASAP so they can be opened.

This particular site's updates include a shift in timeframe for the older car's disappearance. Most reports originally claimed the older Chevy disappeared in the early 1960's. The KFOR site now claims it disappeared in 1969.

Here's the URL:

http://kfor.com/2013/09/17/officials-cr ... cold-case/
 

Mythopoeika

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#14
kamalktk said:
OneWingedBird said:
This is one of the creepiest stories we've had for a while.

Brrrrrrr. :shock:
Just imagine being in the later car, being stuck underwater, looking out the window, and seeing another car full of dead people....

:shock:

Brrrrrrr...seconded! :shock:
 

EnolaGaia

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#16
I've noticed a number of commenters (on news sites, etc.) have expressed incredulity that the authorities didn't drag the lake when the 3 teenagers went missing in 1970.

There's an explanation - at the time, no one thought they were going to the lake.

According to scattered statements in some of the news stories ... When the kids disappeared, they were allegedly heading to a football game or other event in another town. Later / additionally it was suggested there was reason to believe they may have decided to go hunting in an area a very few miles southeast of the lake.

Foss Lake appears to have been a third destination the kids never alleged nor anyone else suspected.
 

EnolaGaia

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#17
The description of the cars' discovery at this site (p. 2):

http://newsok.com/investigators-work-to ... 54/?page=2

... specifically states the cars were found when the personnel testing the sonar were asked to 'take pictures' of the lake bottom adjacent to the boat launch (i.e., the boat ramp), apparently in preparation for installing 'new tarmac'.

So ... It's even creepier to find the police sonar trainees wouldn't have ever found the cars unless someone asked them to survey the boat ramp area as a favor.

:shock:
 

EnolaGaia

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#19
Just for the record ...

The two dark spots I noted earlier (on Google Maps; satellite view) are _not_ the vehicles.

According to this news story from the _Christian Science Monitor_ site:

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-New ... cold-cases

... the cars were discovered only about 50 feet from the end of the boat ramp.

Google Maps indicates the dark spots I mentioned earlier were located much more than 50 feet from the end of the boat ramp.

Still, this makes it all the creepier (IMHO). For 40+ years people have been launching and retrieving their watercraft with two missing vehicles and six missing bodies 50 feet away and only 12 feet 'down'.
 

Cochise

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#20
It does make you wonder about the quality of water in this particular lake! I suppose the two things go together muddy water might put people off swimming, though it doesn't seem to stop most kids. (I don't swim).
 

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#21
Here's an update ... Initial examination of the vehicles seems to suggest accidents. More specifically, there's evidence suggesting the 1970 event (3 teenagers) involved the car running into the lake at speed.

Engine fan indicates crash for Camaro; older car may have rolled in Foss

After Oklahoma Highway Patrol Lake Patrol Division pulled two vehicles out of the waters of Foss Lake last week, troopers went to work to begin to investigate and answer the question of how the two vehicles landed in the water more than 40 years ago.

Trooper George Hoyle said factual evidence supports that both vehicles, a1969 Chevrolet Camaro and a1952 Chevrolet, came to rest at the lake bottom because of an accident and not because of foul play.

Both vehicles, which landed in the lake a year-and-a-half apart were due to unfortunate accidents, said Hoyle.

"We do know the vehicle was running when it hit the water," said Hoyle when asked about the Camaro, during an interview Tuesday at Foss Lake.

The two vehicles, brought to the shore on Sept. 17, were spotted during a training exercise with the OHP and a new piece of sonar equipment. The decades-old cars contained six sets of remains, which have since been taken to Tulsa for examination by the state's medical examiner for DNA analysis. Before the cars were taken away from the boat ramp, a mechanic was called in to examine each vehicle for a post impact report.

ENGINE DAMAGE CAMARO

The Camaro is believed to be owned by Jimmy Allen Williams, who went missing on Nov. 20, 1970 with two other teenagers. Evidence supports that the Camaro, a standard, was found in low gear.

"One of the very first inklings that we had evidence of a possible collision was from the arm of the fan," said Hoyle. "The fan looked like it had gotten into the radiator a little bit and also the bottom of the frame. The motor mount, the one on the passenger side, it was knocked off. It had broken the fuel pump."

Hoyle said the drive shaft was knocked out of the 1969 Camaro.

"One scenario is the driver didn't know where he was at," said Hoyle. "He was driving a little faster then he should have. He ended up striking the water, which was a pretty good impact to the undercarriage of the vehicle."

In October of 1962, the Foss Lake park opened its first recreational facilities, including the boat ramp, where the vehicles were found 50 feet away and in 12 feet deep water. It is believed the ramp had some lights but not to the level of what the boat ramp has today.

The water level was a foot-and-a-half lower then it is today, Hoyle said.

The lake was still in the process of being filled to conservation levels. Construction on the dam wasn't complete until February 1961.

U.S. Highway 73, the road just south of the lake which connects driver's to Marina Road, was a gravel road in 1970, Hoyle said.

Hoyle said he has looked into the weather the night of Nov. 20, 1970. The high temperature was recorded at 69 degrees with a low of 29. There was no record of rain, although some have said it rained the weekend before the three went missing.

"We are going to have to address how that vehicle ended up in the opposite direction," said Hoyle. "There are a lot of things we don't know, right now."

Stalactites, which are formed from water seeping from a ceiling and leaving tubes, were found in the Camaro, Hoyle said.

Stalactites can't grow underwater but must have open air.

17-YEAR-OLD VEHICLE, NO ENGINE DAMAGE

The 1952 Chevrolet, believed by law enforcement agencies to likely be the vehicle three friends were last seen on April 8, 1969. Nora Marie King Duncan, of Canute, John A. Porter, of Elk City, and Clayburn Hammock of Sayre are believed to have driven from Canute to Foss Lake and were never seen again.

Witnesses from 1969 have told officials that the 17-year-old vehicle had to be pushed to be started, said Hoyle.

The vehicle also had mechanical brakes.

"It most likely rolled into the water," said Hoyle. "It had no engine damage and no undercarriage damage at all. We did find a wheel well that was damage, but it was old damage."

SOURCE: http://www.thedailyelkcitian.com/local- ... ed-in-foss
 
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#22
EnolaGaia said:
...Still, this makes it all the creepier (IMHO). For 40+ years people have been launching and retrieving their watercraft with two missing vehicles and six missing bodies 50 feet away and only 12 feet 'down'.
A guy I work with - many years ago, when going through a very bad period in his life - tried to kill himself by jumping off a cliff. He ended up unconscious and badly damaged, not on the rocks at the bottom, or washed away to sea, but on a ledge only around thirty feet below the brow of the cliffs. (My initial comment on his telling me this - 'What, you jumped off a cliff...and missed?' was fortunately received with good humour - sometimes I just can't help myself.) Had he not eventually regained consciousness he'd very possibly still be there.

This was around twenty years ago, in an area very popular with walkers and picnickers, close to a busy car park and not far from a main road - had things turned out differently there's a distinct possibility that over the intervening years tens of thousands, possibly hundreds of thousands, of individual journeys would have passed within fifty feet of his body while it lay on that ledge.

The Foss Lake incident resonates with something I was thinking about in response to a couple of other discussions we've had about missing persons.

There seems to be a natural tendency to assume sinister goings on when considering any unexplained, non-voluntary missing persons case. But, isn't the idea that the missing just go missing by mistake (which I suspect is possibly much more common than we credit) just as scary as the idea that they've been abducted or made away with via some human agency?

In fact - is it not maybe the case that this scenario is somehow actually more frightening to us: that we are fragile bundles of organic tissue with an exaggerated belief in our insulation from harm and the whimsies of chance is actually more frightening than the idea that there are bad people out there ready to do us harm; after all, the former is a constant, the latter just a possibility.

I wonder if we create the sinister element because, paradoxically, it's easier for us to deal with.

The act of human intervention suggests there was some kind of conscious narrative, a drive, a motive involved the act of going missing - a point to it, if you like - and however unpalatable that is I wonder if there's something in human nature that finds it easier to deal with than the alternative. We don't like to think of sudden absence as the result of a random, pointless and unattended accident - we'd rather give that absence a point, however horrible that point may have been.
 

EnolaGaia

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#23
I agree that it somehow seems less threatening to believe horrible things occur via deliberate actions of sinister others (whom we can labor to avoid) rather than our own ability to fatally f**k up on our own.

It seems to me there's another element in play here. There's a certain hubris in assuming some mystery or anomaly (e.g., a disappearance) simply _has_ to be the result of deliberate human agency, and it can't be reasonably ascribed to dumb luck, random weirdness, bad breaks, etc., etc. This seems to belie a presumption that only humans can make strange things happen - i.e., that humans are the dominant cause for anything and everything.

The older I get, the more I suspect this hubris underlies a lot of the conspiracy theories I once found interesting.

Anyway ... Either or both these factors help to explain why it seems easy to write off a disappearance as the result of the disappeared's own intentions.
 

EnolaGaia

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#24
To further illustrate the way we presume sinister others ...

A similar case in South Dakota; news story from 25 September ...

Car containing two teenagers found in South Dakota creek after 42 years

Two grisly finds in water in two weeks ... Crews work to excavate a 1960 Studebaker Lark from Brule Creek, near Vermillion, South Dakota. (AP Photo/Argus Leader, Joe Ahlquist)

ANOTHER car with skeletons inside has been found in water in South Dakota, just seven days after the discovery of six people missing for more than 40 years in a lake in Oklahoma.

A fisherman made the latest discovery when he spotted the car, a Studebaker Lark, with its wheels up in Brule Creek near Elk Point, east of Vermillion, South Dakota.

The US Justice Department’s National Missing and Unidentified Persons System files reveal that the two skeletal remains found in the car are likely to be 17-year-olds Cheryl Miller and Pamella Jackson, of Vermillon, who were last seen driving a beige 1960 Studebaker Lark to a party on May 29. 1971.

The grisly find comes after a similar discovery in Oklahoma where police found the remains of six people in two cars which had been submerged in a lake for more than 40 years.

High spring water levels followed by a drought in the summer helped reveal the old car. Authorities recovered a Studebaker hubcap and a license plate matching the car once owned by Miller’s grandfather.

Miller’s family released a statement on Tuesday thanking the fisherman who found the car and law enforcement officials for their work on the case, the Charlotte Observer reported.

“We’re hoping this leads to our much desired and overdue closure,” it read.

Potential pieces of evidence were taken from the site and will be examined, South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley, Union County Sheriff Dan Limoges and Union County States Attorney Jerry Miller said in a news release. They said no other information will be released until an autopsy is complete and more testing is done on the items, and the families are told of the results.

Convicted rapist David Lykken, who was a classmate of the girls, was charged over their disappearance after clothing, bones, a purse and other items were found on his farm.

He was indicted on six counts of murder in 2007, but the charges were later dropped after prosecutors learned that another inmate had lied about Lykken confessing to the crimes.

SOURCE: http://www.news.com.au/world-news/north ... 6726981655
 

EnolaGaia

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#25
This September 19 story illustrates (via comments from local sheriffs at the time and now ...) how frustrating it can be to solve a missing persons case with no clues.

(This is in reference to the 3 teens who disappeared in 1970 - the ones who never gave anyone any reason to believe they were going to Foss Lake.)

The Beckham County Sheriff's Office began the investigation into the disappearance of Jimmy Allen Williams, 16, Thomas Michael Rios, 18 and Leah Gail Johnson, 18, on Nov. 20, 1970. That's the night the three never returned to their Sayre homes, said retired Sheriff Howard Sampier.

"After we received the report that they were missing, I put the tag number out that night," remembers Sampier. "The next day I put the vehicle description and the description of the teenagers out nationwide and also gave the information out to watch for border crossings. My whole crew and the Highway Patrol searched the surrounding area, but we never located anything."

Family of the teens told the sheriff's office the three were headed to Elk City to catch a football game. They left Sayre in Williams' blue 1969 Chevrolet Camaro.
Over the years, theories have been explored including that the teens may have decided to go hunting.

Sampier said that of all the leads received, not one was for Foss Lake.

"Never really had any good leads to speak of," said Sampier, who said it was the most troubling case in his law enforcement career. "We never had any sort of lead or idea about the Foss Lake area."

Current Beckham County Sheriff Scott Jay said his department has looked into the case several times.

"We have opened it up and looked at it three times," said Jay, who was elected sheriff in 2000. "We have revisited it and we just kept coming up with dead ends. We used modern technology. We used different databases on the Internet but with no success until Tuesday morning."

Jay said they never looked towards Foss Lake but did examine surrounding rivers and ponds in Beckham County.

"I even contacted the military and tried to see if we could do something that would have been like a sonar on land," said Jay. "It was way too costly. We were going to go through the areas that we had determined was the route they might have taken."

The OHP was also active in the investigation. As recent as 2009, the OHP used a sonar device to try and locate the car in Lake Hudson in Mayes County near an old Ferry. Nothing turned up.

Sampier said that the families and friends of the teens understandably kept wanting answers down through the years.

"We did, too," said Sampier, who served as sheriff from 1964 to 1973. "I tried to explain that we had done everything that law enforcement could possibly do. You just can't make evidence up if it's not there."

SOURCE: http://www.thedailyelkcitian.com/local- ... -foss-lake
You'll notice they'd previously used sonar to search for the missing car, but in a different lake a few miles away (and much closer to the area where the teens were ostensibly traveling that night).
 

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#26
In regards to orignal storythere are not that many places a car can go. Besides getting cubed or buried on someones property, the chances are pretty good it went into water. Sometimes a gully or deep valley but I would think water would be the most likely place for something as big as a car to disapear.
 

EnolaGaia

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#27
Update on the similar story from last September ...

ELK POINT, S.D. | Two Vermillion, S.D., teens missing for nearly 43 years died in a car crash, not from foul play, authorities said Tuesday.

Pamella Jackson, and Cheryl Miller, both 17, were last seen driving to a party at a Union County gravel pit in a 1960 Studebaker Lark on May 29, 1971

Their car was found partially submerged upside down in a creek several miles southwest of Alcester, S.D., on Sept. 13, 2013. Two sets of skeletal remains inside the car were sent to Texas for testing.

On Tuesday, authorities confirmed the remains were Jackson and Miller. There were no signs of foul play.

...

SOURCE: http://siouxcityjournal.com/news/local/ ... 05ae2.html
 

EnolaGaia

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#28
... And now there's another similar discovery in Texas.

Skeletal Remains Found In Lake Granbury May Shed Light On Cold Case

April 18, 2014 11:16 AM

GRANBURY (CBSDFW.COM) – A disturbing find in Lake Granbury may be a key piece in solving a mysterious disappearance there nearly 35-years ago.

Low water levels at the lake revealed the existence of a pickup truck there Thursday. And when the Hood County Sheriff’s department took it to an impound lot, investigators found the skeletal remains of a woman inside.

This might help explain the disappearance of Helen Holladay, who disappeared from her weekend home on Whippoorwill Bay in September of 1979. Speculation at the time linked her disappearance to her husband, with whom she reportedly had numerous physical altercations. She was officially declared deceased in 1986; he was a suspect at the time, but died in 1987.

...

SOURCE: http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2014/04/18/skel ... cold-case/

Other Sources:

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/he ... anbury.ece

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/2 ... 82298.html
It's starting to look like American lakes and streams may hold the answers to more disappearances than one would have imagined.
 

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#29
Simple story.

Teenagers, out helling around, driving too fast, maybe a few beers.

And that's the end of their stories.

A few years later, ditto.

Cars are often discovered in bodies of water, or in tangled brush-usually accidents, or dumpings(stolen or simply unwanted).

You're right, there's a story in there.
 
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