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Oklahoma says bodies found in lake solve decades-old disappearance cases

By Heide Brandes

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - Authorities on Friday released the names of two of the six people whose bodies were discovered in two cars in an Oklahoma lake by police testing sonar equipment, ending decades-old disappearance cases.

The bodies were of Jimmy Allen Williams, 16, who went missing in 1970 and Cleburn Hammack, 42, who went missing in 1969, the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner's office said.

The bodies were pulled out from two cars, a 1952 Chevrolet and a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, discovered in western Oklahoma's Foss Lake in September.

According to the medical examiner’s autopsy reports, neither Williams nor Hammack appeared to have trauma and both deaths were likely due to accidental drowning.

Williams, Thomas Michael Rios, 18, and Leah Gail Johnson, 18, were last seen in Williams' Camaro on their way to a football game in Elk City on Nov. 20, 1970, according to the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System.

Hammack was last seen riding with two people in Canute, about 15 miles south of Lake Foss.

The names of the others will be released when testing is complete and their relatives have been notified, the medical examiner's office said.

The cars were found three feet apart in 12 feet of water near the main concrete boat dock on the lake. A road narrows into the concrete dock, which may explain how the vehicles ended up in the water, police said.

In September, Oklahoma Highway Patrol divers discovered the two cars, covered by mud and rust on the bottom of Foss Lake, based on a sonar test.

"It was quite a shock when the first car came out and we saw what was in the driver's seat," Betsy Randolph, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Highway Patrol said last year.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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