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Investigators work to identify six bodies found in Oklahoma's Foss Lake

The state medical examiner's office tests DNA of family members to identify remains of six bodies. The remains were found in two cars in Foss Lake by Oklahoma Highway Patrol divers.
by Juliana Keeping and Adam Kemp Modified: September 18, 2013 at 9:48 pm •  Published: September 18, 2013

— A true Oklahoma cowboy, John Alva Porter never left home without his boots and belt buckle.

Debbie Mcmanaman last saw her grandpa John on a Sunday afternoon in April 1969. By that Friday, he was gone.

Wednesday, Mcmanaman stood on the shore of Foss Lake next to the sodden wreck of a '52 Chevy that contained the remains of three people.

She hopes her grandfather is one of them, she told Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples. If so, and if authorities find the buckle, she told the sheriff her family would like it back.

The discovery

Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers testing new sonar equipment on Sept. 10 led to the discovery of a rusted-out 1952 Chevy and a 1969 Camaro on the lake bottom, which contained the skeletal remains of six people, three in each car.

Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples said it's possible that tests conducted on the remains, compared to the DNA of living family members, could solve decades-old cold cases. Mcmanaman's grandfather was one of three reported missing out of Canute in 1969.

The remains in the Camaro could hold the key to a case of three missing teenagers from Sayre.

The Daily Elk Citian reported the missing Sayre teens as Jimmy Allen Williams, Thomas Michael Rios and Leah Gail Johnson. They were last seen in Sayre the night of Nov. 20, 1970, the newspaper reported.

Caked in red clay

The morning of Sept. 10, highway patrol trooper George Hoyle and another trooper boarded a 22-foot patrol watercraft affixed with new sonar technology.

Through muddy Oklahoma water at the man-made lake, the troopers tested the imaging technology in a creek and near a dam. Hoyle held the instruction manual and zoomed in on images on a screen, looking to decipher trees and other debris on the lake bottom.

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by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and 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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by Adam Kemp
Enterprise Reporter
Adam Kemp is an enterprise reporter and videographer for the Oklahoman and Kemp grew up in Oklahoma City before attending Oklahoma State University. Kemp has interned for the Oklahoman, the Oklahoma Gazette and covered Oklahoma State...
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