The murky waters that cover most of our globe have always fascinated mankind. What lies under the surface hidden from view? Drought conditions, the advent of scuba diving, improvement of sonar technology has allowed us to peer into these watery depths. In Houston alone there are underwater car lots where cars have crashed, been abandoned and forgotten. Now with droughts causing water levels to drop, more and more cars are being discovered. Not only cars but cars with bodies still at the wheel, cold cases that have been unsolved for decades.
10 – Not fed to the dogs
In 2005 German prosecutors presented to the court that Rudolf Rupp’s wife, children and a family friend killed Rudolf, hacked up his body and fed it to their dogs. Under intense police pressure the family confessed and pleaded guilty, that was until March of 2009 when a Mercedes that had tumbled down an embankment and into the river Danube was recovered. Inside was the still intact body of Rudolf Rupp, the family recanted their confessions and were given a new trial.
9 – Gangster in the river
Louis Emery Roger was a real “Acadiana character.” Connected with local organized crime Roger was said to control all known illicit activities in an area then known as the “77 Sunset strip”. For 25-years his disappearance was the source of myth and legend, that was until the discovery of a wrecked Cadillac that was pulled from the Vermilion River near Lafayette, Louisiana in 2008. The car was discovered after another car crashed into the river and by chance landed on top of the caddy. Police investigation determined that on October 25, 1983 an elderly Roger failed to make a turn and slammed into the river, much like the car that 25 years later that would lead to the discovery of Roger’s car-entombed body.
8 – Pulled from a canal
Police discovered a Buick Station Wagon in a quiet residential, Punta Gorda, canal in western Florida. Inside were the remains of Frances Hendrickson and her purse with laminated ID inside. The car had sat silently at the bottom of the canal for 20-years. Last seen on July 1 Frances Hendrickson was leaving to go shopping in her Buick with the vanity plates “SNO BURD”. Initial police investigation point to Hendrickson taking a wrong turn and crashing her car into the water, and drowning. The police say that without any witnesses to the crash the car slowly sank and sat at the bottom of the canal until new sonar technology discovered it.
7 – Delano man found dead in trunk of submerged car
In September of 2013 a car was pulled from the Friant Kern canal, east of Delano, California. Inside the trunk was the body of 88-year-old beloved community barber, John Holguin Espinoza. Police were baffled at who would murder a pillar of the community and it took almost a year before they were able to arrest John Albay Galafate who was renting an apartment from Espinoza. Galafate and Espinoza had argued over unpaid rent before Galafate beat, strangled and tied up Espinoza. Further investigation would reveal that the 88-year old’s blood was found in Galafate’s apartment. After tying up the old man Galafate drove him in the trunk of his own car and dumped the car in the Friant Kern canal.
6 – Lake Carlton Arms apartment complex’s drunken driver
In november of 1993 in Hillsborough County, Florida an intoxicated Ryan Carl Kresin drove his 1987 Cadillac off to get more booze. After being denied a sale by an alarmed clerk, Kresin drove off never to be seen again. Finally in 2006 a car was spotted and fished out of a pond at the Lake Carlton Arms apartment not far from where Kresin lived. Dental records weren’t conclusive but DNA was able to prove that the remains found in the Cadillac were in fact Ryan Carl Kresin. Don’t drink and drive.
5 – Woman pulled from Texas Lake
In 2014 a passer-by came upon the partially exposed 1970s-model Chevy truck in Lake Granbury, North Texas. The lake’s water level has dropped dramatically due to an ongoing drought. Remains were discovered as well as the purse and ID of Helen Holladay. She had been missing almost 35 years ago after a domestic dispute between her and her husband. At the time her vanishing off the face of the earth was deemed suspicious. When she went missing in September 1979 Holladay was 45 years old. Her husband was investigated in her disappearance but was never charged, he died a few years later.
4 – 1978 Missing Teens
In October 7, 1978 two teens, Harry “Wade” Atchison, 19, and Dana Null, 15, were last seen driving away from a house party. That was the last anyone saw of them until 2015 when the car they went missing in, an orange 1969 Dodge Coronet, was discovered in the Sunrise canal, just north of State Road 84 in Florida. Further searches revealed human remains close to the submerged car. Dredgers working for South Florida Management found the car and notified police.
3 – Canadian lake gives up 38-year-old mystery
In November of 1972 20-year-old Betty Thomas was last seen driving home before she seemingly disappeared leaving behind a husband and an 18-month-old son. Then in 2010 as part of a cleanup program in Skaha Lake, located about 250 kilometres east of Vancouver, a early 1960’s model Chrysler New Yorker was pulled from the water. Inside horrified cleanup workers found human remains. A laminated ID found in the vehicle identified the body as Betty Thomas. It appears that Betty lost control of her car and drove off a cliff 100 metres into the lake where the car remained for 38 years waiting for someone anyone to come and get her.
2 – Four decade mystery of missing South Dakota women solved
A drought in South Dakota lowered the water levels enough so that a long submerged car that had flipped over was observed by a passing farmer. Pulling the 1960 Studebaker from the muck they discovered inside the remains of two girls with even their clothing remarkably still in tact. The two girls had disappeared without a trace in 1971. A convicted rapist who is presently in jail was originally thought to be responsible but after a lack of evidence the case was dropped. Only in 2013 when the car was discovered and DNA confirmed was the case closed, with the bodies being identified as the missing girls, Cheryl Miller and Pamela Jackson.
1 – Two cars on top of each other
In September of 2013 Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers were doing a sonar training exercise for finding submerged cars. While scouring the water they came across two decades old vehicles that had somehow landed on top of each other. After almost a year of investigation and DNA testing on old bones they were able to close two sets of cold missing person cases. The car on the bottom, a 1952 Chevrolet, contained the remains of three people 69-year-old John Alva; 42-year-old Cleburn Hammack, and 58-year-old Nora Duncan. The trio had mysteriously disappeared in 1969. The next year another car, a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, crashed into the water and settled on top of the ‘52 Chevy. In this car DNA was able to determine the identify of 16-year-old Jimmy Allen Williams and 18-year-olds Leah Gail Johnson and Thomas Michael Rios, 18. The teens had disappeared after heading off to a football game in 1970.
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