"After nine and a half years to prepare for this, we thought we would be ready for the inevitable. But it hurts as bad as if it happened yesterday," stated Anthony Luzio Sr, a retired Columbus police sergeant.
Anthony "Tony" Luzio Jr, 25, of Powell OH, vanished on July 4 2005 after leaving a party in Delaware County Ohio. His family had always held hope that Tony would be found or that they would find the answer to why he had never come home. On Oct 21 2014, the Luzio family finally got their answer when Tony's 2004 Honda Civic was located in a retention pond in Delaware County. The vehicle was pulled from the water at about 4:30 pm and his driver's license was found in the vehicle along with human remains that were dressed in clothes that matched what Tony had been wearing the night that he had disappeared.
On the evening of July 3 2005, Tony had gone over a friend's house to play cards. Afterwards, Tony stopped at a local bar to meet up with some other friends and at about 2:30 am, Tony and friends went to a party that was less than a mile from where his parents lived. Friends last saw Tony leaving the party which was near Rutherford Rd off Sawmill Pkwy at around 4 am. They stated then that they assumed that he was heading back to his apartment then but he had apparently given his key to someone else during that evening.
They had been searching for Tony for years after the intensive search after his disappearance. In 2007, Texas EquuSearch volunteered their time to search surrounding areas and locations where Tony may be found but their search turned up no clues as to his whereabouts. In April 2013, investigators decided to begin searching bodies of water and retention ponds within a 3 mile radius of the friend's home in an effort to locate his car. Their list was quite long but they chose to begin looking in ponds that reasonable could have been reached by a vehicle in 2005 before they checked the isolated ones.
They enlisted the help of Team Watters Sonar Search and Recovery from Moro IL to help them search the likely bodies of water. The company which is owned by Dennis and Tammy Watters relies mostly on donations and it was on their eighth trip to Delaware County that they found Tony's car. It was within minutes of launching their boat with the sonar that they had a probable hit on their screens. Second year firefighter Brian Daugherty was the first diver in and he found the car at the bottom to verify that they had found something.
After they had found no sign of Tony within the first few months after his disappearance, it was thought that maybe he had just made a mistake and driven off the road. When the investigators decided to start looking into the bodies of water nearby, they found that there were over 300 of them within the 3 mile radius. They tried to narrow down the search criteria and Tony and his car were found in the 13th pond that they searched that day. While the police were happy to finally get closure on an unsolved case from that far back, they were also very emotional when the diver surfaced and confirmed the license plate number of the car.
The Luzio family finally had their answer as to what had happened to Tony all those years ago. It seems that Tony may have just taken a wrong turn while driving that night and he and his car ended up underwater for almost a decade.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers were conducting a sonar training exercise on Foss Lake OK on September 10 2013 when they found more than they had expected to. They had been asked to test their new sonar equipment near an old boat ramp that was scheduled for a major overhaul. The plan was to extend the cement part of the launch further into the water while the lake was low.
They returned to do a scheduled dive on Sept 17 2013 to remove the cars which were not too far from the boat launch so that there would be no debris blocking the extension. Both of the cars were located about 50' out from the main boat ramp on the the south side and sitting in about 12' of water and seemed to be parked beside each other, they were that close. The police had originally thought that they were stolen cars that had been dumped.
It was not until they had brought the first car out that they found bones in it and they found the same when they brought the second car out of the water. The divers returned to the water and found a human skull that probably belonged with the cars. The remains were carefully removed from both vehicles and police at that point found that they had six victims between both cars. All of the remains were brought to the medical examiners office.
The 1952 Chevy sedan Styleline was the first to be removed from the water and the police knew that they had more than an ordinary junk car removal on their hands. They could see skeletal remains in the car and the removal quickly changed into a potential crime scene. The police also had begun to think that the two cars they had found may hold the answers to two of the state's old cold cases.
John Alva Porter, 69, of Elk City, Nora Marie Duncan, 58, of Canute and Cleburn Hammock, 42, of Sayre were last seen in Canute on April 8 1969. They were last seen in Canute when Porter's car needed a push to get it started. Porter would often just head out and go driving either by himself or with Duncan and Hammock but everyone was shocked when they seemed to have vanished into thin air. Relatives of Porter remember the green 1952 Chevy that he owned and police felt that they may have found some answers to what may have happened to the trio when they saw the car come out of the water.
|John Alva Porter|
|1952 Chevy sedan Styleline similar to Porter's car|
The preliminary report from the coroner in 2013 stated that the three sets of skeletal remains found in that car fit the descriptions of the three that were missing. The police needed to verify that with DNA testing and had stated then that it may take a year or more to complete. The Oklahoma Medical Office stated on Oct 22 2014 that they had positively identified the three as being the bodies found in the car. They added that the car showed not signs of damage to it and it is believed that it just rolled into the water. It had no damage to the undercarriage or engine damage and only had signs of old damage a wheel well. The report states that they dies from accidental drowning with no signs of foulplay.
The second car out of the water was a blue 1969 Chevy Camaro and the police immediately suspected that it was the car that Jimmy Williams was driving when he and two friends went missing on November 20 1970. Police also found the skeletal remains of three individuals in that car as well. The preliminary report stated that they had found a male teenager in the drivers seat and a male and a female, both teenagers in the back seat. This fit with the descriptions of the occupants of Williams's car when it went missing. The police stated that DNA was also going to be used to positively identify the bodies.
Jimmy Allen Williams, 16, of Sayre, had bought the used Camaro only six days before the three friends disappeared. Williams with Thomas Michael Rios, 18 and Leah Gail Johnson, 18, both of Sayre as well, were last seen at the bowling ally in Sayre that night. They had stated that they all planned to go to a football game but it was thought that they may have decided to go hunting. Searches for the three included that as a possibilty since many young people in that area would think nothing of going out to hunt at a moments notice.
|Sayre bowling ally|
|Jimmy with his Camaro|
|Jimmy with his new Camaro|
|1969 Camaro similar to Jimmy's|
The report that was released stated that the remains that were found in the Camaro were those of Williams and his friends. Jimmy had been driving the car and the report concluded that the car had been running when it hit the water. The impact with the water had damaged the radiator fan, a motor mount, the drive shaft and the fuel pump. It was also concluded that there was no foulplay involved but that Williams may have been unfamiliar with the area and accidentally drove into the lake. The conclusion is that they all died from accidental drowning after the car impacted the water at a fairly high rate of speed.
After almost forty years, six families and a small town have some answers to two disappearances that had left people wondering how they could have vanished seemingly into thin air. The six who have been missing for decades can finally be laid to rest.
|Boat ramp at Foss Reservoir|