Families give more details that might reveal the cold cases in Foss Lake

The discoveries of two cars and six bodies in Foss Lake has reopened decades-old western Oklahoma cold cases. Family members of six people reported missing in the area in 1969 and 1970 hope the Foss Lake discoveries will provide answers to their loved ones' cases.
by Juliana Keeping Modified: September 19, 2013 at 10:39 pm •  Published: September 19, 2013

The green 1950s Chevrolet Nora Duncan rode in the night she disappeared needed a push to get it started when it was last seen in Canute, a tiny town in western Oklahoma.

Duncan, 58, disappeared on April 8, 1969, with friends Cleburn Hammock and John Alva Porter, according to a letter written to the FBI by Duncan's daughter later that year.

Few details are known about the night she and her friends disappeared.

A mud-caked and rusted 1950s Chevrolet pulled out of Foss Lake Tuesday could reveal more about the decades-old mystery.

The family has gone for more than 40 years without answers.

“Exhaustive investigation by family members of family has failed to develop any information as to her possible whereabouts and for that reason it is requested that a missing person notice be posted ...” the letter, filed in the National Missing Persons Database, states. It's addressed to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, dated Oct. 9, 1969, and written by Duncan's daughter, Clara Jo Duncan Irick.

It's possible that the lake will give up Duncan's cold case and five others.

The discovery

Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers testing new sonar equipment on Sept. 10 led to the discovery of a 1950s Chevy and a 1969 Camaro on the lake bottom, which contained the skeletal remains of six people, three in each car. The cars were pulled from the lake, and authorities and an anthropologist with the state medical examiner's office worked Tuesday and Wednesday to remove and sort the remains. DNA tests compared with the DNA of living family members could solve decades-old cold cases.

The remains in the Camaro could hold the key to a case of three missing teenagers from Sayre: Jimmy Allen Williams, 16; Thomas Michael Rios, 18; and Leah Gail Johnson, who has been reported as 17 or 18. The teens were last seen in Sayre the night of Nov. 20, 1970, Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples said.

Irick, of Joplin, Mo., told a Missouri news outlet the discovery and resolution it could bring to her mother's disappearance would give her closure.

The younger brother of Jimmy Williams, who went missing with two teenage friends, felt certain his brother's body was in the Camaro.

Gary Williams, 55 today, was 12 when his older brother went missing.


by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com. Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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