Vehicle Discovered in Illinois River May Provide Breakthrough in 1976 Cold Case

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A fisherman made an intriguing discovery when he stumbled upon a potential breakthrough in a 50-year-old missing persons case at the bed of a river in Illinois—a 1966 Chevy Impala.

The vehicle was retrieved from the Pecatonica River by dive teams on March 11 afternoon, believed to be linked to a disappearance that occurred on February 19, 1976, involving Everett Hawley and Clarence Owens in Pecatonica, Illinois, as reported by WREX NBC 13.

The sequence of events unfolded as described by 13 WREX:

“About a week or so ago, we had some fishermen, fishing with their sonar, and they spotted what they thought was a car. And they drilled down on it [and] reported it to us,” revealed Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana during an afternoon press conference.

Divers swiftly retrieved the vehicle, submerged in mud approximately eight to ten feet beneath the river’s surface, within about 15 minutes.

“No case is ever done. My deputy chief of the detectives, he assigns cold cases, and we keep drilling down on them,” Sheriff Caruana reiterated the department’s relentless pursuit of unresolved cases.

Sheriff Caruana indicated that authorities are presently engaged in a “missing persons investigation,” with further revelations anticipated imminently.

The vicinity witnessed the presence of multiple emergency vehicles and a crane on Monday morning around 8:30 a.m., as crews conducted a test dive, as informed by authorities to 13 WREX.

A comprehensive account of the events of February 19, 1976, has been documented by The Kansas City Star. It was disclosed that Hawley served as a real estate broker in Freeport, Illinois, with Owens employed as a salesperson at his firm.

Owens, then 65 years old, reportedly picked up Hawley, aged 74 at the time, in the Impala on that pivotal Thursday morning. Their activities included attending a political rally, visiting a café, and stopping by a family member’s residence. Their last sighting occurred at a farm auction near the Winnebago-Olga Country line.

Following their disappearance, which was reported the following day, local law enforcement agencies conducted an “intense” investigation, yet neither the missing individuals nor the Impala were located—until this recent development.

Authorities refrained from disclosing whether the missing men’s remains were found within the vehicle but affirmed that “there’s going to be more findings” in the ongoing investigation.

Also read: Classic Chevy Impala: Timeless Elegance and Performance


By Preksha Sharma

being me means you've got to love cars, coffee and gilmore girls. sorry i don't make the rules.

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