“These vehicles match those missing-persons reports real close,” Peoples said Wednesday as investigators combed through what remained of the rusty, mud-covered vehicles.
The missing teens were identified as Leah Johnson, Michael Rios and Jimmy Williams.
Both vehicles were discovered Tuesday in about 12 feet of water by divers conducting a training exercise at the lake about 30 miles east of town.
The vehicles were only about 50 feet from the end of a boat ramp near a marina, but Peoples said it was no surprise that the murky waters held a secret.
“This lake isn’t crystal clear. It’s a typical western Oklahoma lake with a lot of silt in it. The visibility is only 6 to 12 inches on a good day,” Peoples said. “We’ll consider it a mystery until we prove otherwise.”
The sheriff said it was entirely possible that people simply drove into Foss Lake and drowned.
“We know that to happen, even if you know your way around. It can happen that quick,” he added.
While Peoples said he was confident the Camaro held the remains of the three teens, the origins of the bones in the second vehicle were less clear.
Tim Porter of Enid said he believed the remains could be those of his grandfather, John Albert Porter, who disappeared along with two other people in 1969.
“Forty-something years of wondering who or why,” Porter said. “If it is my grandfather in there, it’s a gift.”
The sheriff said Wednesday he was not sure whether the cars held the remains of five or six bodies. The state medical examiner’s office believed the remains of six people were recovered.
The bones were being sent to the medical examiner’s office for identification and to determine the cause of death.
Divers had found three skulls as of Tuesday evening. They planned to continue looking for more remains, Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokeswoman Betsy Randolph said
Authorities hoped the discoveries offer some relief to families who may have gone decades wondering about the fate of a missing loved one.
“We’re hoping these individuals, that this is going to bring some sort of closure to some families out there who have been waiting to hear about missing people,” Randolph said. “If that’s the case, then we’re thrilled.”