November 20, 1970
Sayre, Oklahoma
Three teens — Jimmy Allen Williams (16), Leah Gail Johnson (18), Thomas Michael Rios (18) — disappear; their bodies will be found 43 years later

The trio of teenagers disappeared after heading toward a football game. They were last seen as they passed by a bowling alley in Williams’ 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, though they never made it to the game, and their tracks faded entirely.

Right to left: Jimmy Allen Williams, Leah Gail Johnson, and Thomas Michael Rios

The families of the teens held on to the hope that they would reappear one day, as suddenly as they had vanished. Jimmy’s mother Betty Williams continued to bake her son a cake every year on his birthday in the event he came home. Meanwhile, the Rios family refused to move in case Thomas returned, fearful he would be unable to find them.

Nearly 43 years later on September 18, 2013, law enforcement officials were testing sonar equipment at Foss Lake when they discovered two rusted, submerged cars located side by side. The cars were roughly 50 feet (15 meters) from the end of a boat dock, covered in mud and approximately 12 feet (3.7 meters) of water. Despite the cars being in relatively shallow water, located somewhat close to the dock, and the dock itself being used frequently, the murky water had hidden both cars for decades.

Skulls and other bone fragments were found in both cars, and it was determined a total of six people had occupied the vehicles. It was quickly suspected the Camaro belonged to Williams, based on personal effects found in the car, including his class ring, bank card, and cowboy boots. The other car was suspected to belong to John Alva Porter (69) who had disappeared the year before the teens.

Relatives of six missing persons volunteered their DNA to test against the skeletons to help prove their identities. Because the bodies had degraded greatly during their time in the water, the testing took longer than it would have under better circumstances, but all victims were eventually identified. The Camaro did in fact hold the remains of Jimmy Williams, Leah Johnson, and Thomas Rios. In the second car, a 1957 Chevrolet, were the remains of John Alva Porter, Cleburn Hammack (42), and Nora Marie Duncan (58), who were last seen on April 8, 1969.

The deaths of all six were officially listed as accidental drowning. It is suspected both vehicles had been driven at night and the drivers had not seen the rural road transition into the boat dock until it was too late.

Sullivan, Gail. “Identified: Three Oklahoma teens missing 40 years, found at the bottom of a lake.” Washington Post. October 27, 2014. Accessed: November 20, 2019.
Eaton, Kristi. “2 bodies found in Oklahoma lake identified.” Enid News & Eagle. August 9, 2014. Accessed: November 20, 2019.
“Mother of Okla. teen who vanished in 1970 died heartbroken, without answers.” CBS News. September 23, 2013. Accessed: November 20, 2019.
Swain, Jon. “Oklahoma Foss Lake deaths: now a town whispers murder.” The Telegraph. September 20, 2013. Accessed: November 20, 2019.
Johnson, M. Alex. “After decades of mystery, closure may still take years following discovery of bodies at bottom of Okla. lake.” NBC News. September 18, 2013. Accessed: November 20, 2019.

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