South Dakota authorities are still releasing very few details about the evidence recovered from the submerged Studebaker in rural South Dakota at the end of September. The human remains have now been sent to the University of Texas for further DNA testing with hopes of getting a positive identification on both bodies. Those results are not expected for another 30 to 90 days. Investigators believe that these remains are tied to a 40 year-old cold case of two teenagers who disappeared in 1971. Cheryl Miller and Pamella Jackson, both 17, were last seen in Union County, S.D., driving to party in a Studebaker on May 29, 1971. Pamella Jackson and Cheryl Miller never made it to the party and were never heard from or seen again.
South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley noted that the car recovered had a three-speed manual transmission, and the mechanical testing done determined the vehicle was in third (highest) gear. Jackley told The Akron Hometowner, “The fact standing alone is not consistent with foul play…if the car had been in neutral, it would have been consistent with foul play.”
Because the skeletal remains and the car were submerged for 42 years, it may never be known if this was a simple car accident or something more sinister. “It will certainly be more challenging to make further determinations on what may or may not have happened,” said Jackley. “There needs to be an appreciation that some of these materials are 42 years old, and we may never be able to comfortably or positively indicate what happened on May 29, 1971.”
UPDATE 04/16/2014: Investigators: South Dakota girls missing since 1971 died when Studebaker drove into creek
Update #1: Police say finding cause/manner of death from the skeletal remains found in Studebaker will be challenging.
Skeletons recovered from a Studebaker in South Dakota, may belong to missing teens
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