Amateur Sleuth’s Ingenious Effort Unearths 41-Year Mystery: Missing Trio’s Likely Resting Place Found in North Carolina Creek

Three families are expressing gratitude to amateur sleuth Jason Souhrada, who, armed with a makeshift sonar and his own intuition, may have uncovered the likely resting place of their loved ones after a 41-year mystery.

William Clifton, 30, David McMicken, 24, and Michael Norman, 32, disappeared in 1982 after leaving a North Carolina bar just before Christmas.

Despite baffling authorities, Jason Souhrada, a dive team leader, took matters into his own hands by attaching a cheap sonar to a boogie board and exploring Jack’s Creek, an overlooked pond on their route home.

Inspired Investigation and Scans

Souhrada’s inspiration came from online reports and YouTubers who had previously searched the town without success.

He noticed an anomaly in Jack’s Creek during his initial scan, resembling an upside-down car. Encouraged by fellow divers, Souhrada conducted additional scans and shared his findings with local police.

Subsequently, divers were sent in and discovered a car matching the VIN number of the one the men were driving, along with human remains.

Families’ Gratitude and Potential Closure

The families of the missing men expressed their gratitude to Souhrada for his sacrifice and dedication to solving a decades-old mystery.

While formal identification is pending, the families are cautiously optimistic that closure is within reach. Clifton’s daughter, Lea Rose, acknowledged Souhrada’s role, stating, “Without Jason Souhrada’s sacrifice, taking time away from his family to help ours, we wouldn’t have this potential chance for closure.”

The discovery has reopened wounds but also brought a slight relief through answers.

Details of the Disappearance and Personal Impact

The creek, located just four miles from the Chocowinity bar where the men were last seen, became the focal point of Souhrada’s investigation.

Rose shared her memories of the night her father went missing, recounting a family outing to see Santa Claus before her father spent time with friends and never returned.

Souhrada, inspired to investigate Jack’s Creek, recognized the limitations of regular boats in accessing the body of water.

Innovative Approach with Sonar Boat

Unable to afford a traditional boat and facing access challenges, Souhrada built a sonar-equipped boat using a boogie board.

His innovative approach stemmed from the desire to scan areas where regular boats couldn’t go, such as retention ponds.

Souhrada explained, “Tons of missing people are found in retention ponds,” highlighting the potential of his unconventional method.

Discovery Challenges and Recovery Process

Upon discovering the vehicle submerged in Jack’s Creek, divers faced challenges due to its deteriorated condition. The vehicle’s VIN was crucial in confirming its connection to the missing men.

Recovering the rusted remains became a priority, requiring the draining of four million gallons of water from the creek. Chief of Police Phil Rollinson commended Souhrada’s findings and expressed confidence in identifying the individuals through DNA testing.

Amateur Sleuths and Technological Advances

The case underscores the growing role of amateur sleuths utilizing sonar and mapping technology to re-examine long-dormant missing persons cases.

Similar efforts by individuals like Mike Sullivan of Sunshine State Sonar have brought closure to bereaved families by locating submerged vehicles in waterways.

The discovery in Jack’s Creek has given hope to families who never thought they would uncover the fate of their missing loved ones.

In reflecting on the unexpected discovery, Clifton’s daughter ReAnne Mayo expressed a surreal feeling, saying, “I feel like I am in a dream of sorts… I never thought to prepare myself had we found them.”

The families, now facing the possibility of closure, are navigating a complex mix of emotions as they come to terms with the newfound information about their missing loved ones.

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