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September 19, 2013

Submerged cars recovered from lake may solve cases

SAYRE — When three teenagers from this small Oklahoma town disappeared on their way to a high school football game in 1970, rumors swirled as to what happened to the trio.

Some thought the three had stumbled across a drug deal at a rural airstrip and been killed. Others said they might have run away to California.

“There have been theories from everybody,” said Dayva Spitzer, publisher of The Sayre Record newspaper and a longtime resident. “Everyone suspected foul play. ... But every lead just went nowhere.”

Now authorities believe they have a key piece to the puzzle: A 1969 Camaro, just like the one the teens were driving, was pulled from a lake with the skeletal remains of three people inside.

And that wasn’t the only discovery. A second car containing remains, an early 1950s Chevrolet, was also recovered. Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples believes it may solve another case in which two men and a woman disappeared a year before the teens vanished.

“These vehicles match those missing-persons reports real close,” Peoples said Wednesday as investigators combed through the rusty, mud-covered vehicles.

Both vehicles were discovered Tuesday by divers conducting a training exercise at Foss Lake, about 100 miles west of Oklahoma City.

The cars were submerged in about 12 feet of water and 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 the lake and drowned.

“We know that to happen, even if you know your way around. It can happen that quick,” he added.

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