No answers yet on cars found in lake
With more questions surfacing about how two cars with six people’s remains inside them came to be entombed in the waters of Foss Reservoir more than 43 years ago, Custer County Sheriff Bruce Peoples says his agency has been designated as the official information source for the case. But he says he has no answers yet.
The brother of one of the assumed victims, 16-year-old Jimmy Williams, has done his own investigation and disagrees with what authorities initially believed. The brother, Gary Williams of Sayre, thinks his brother’s 1969 Chevrolet Camaro was rolled into the lake backwards from near the top of the boat ramp and its three occupants were already dead before it hit the water.
His implication is that foul play was involved.
Peoples said Tuesday he did permit Gary Williams to examine the car but said it’s far too early to say for sure how it got in the water.
“We’re just keeping our minds and the investigation open until something is determined,” he said. “We won’t know anything until the medical examiner determines if there was some kind of induced trauma.”
To conclude that foul play was involved, said Peoples, “We’d have to have evidence of some type. We’re keeping our minds open to any aspect that that might have happened.”
Meantime, he said different agencies have been getting questions from the news media – and from family members – and it’s leading to confusion. Consequently, he confirmed that a conference was held Monday at his office and it was decided that his agency should be the one releasing information.
“It all ended up here,” he said, his statement apparently having a double meaning in that the two cars wound up in a lake in Custer County and those at the meeting decided as the sheriff of that county he should be the principal spokesperson.
That’s different from what he thought just a few days ago.
“A reporter from the Daily Oklahoman several days before had questions,” he said. “I told them OSBI (the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation) was in charge. It’s caused some confusion. The Lake Patrol (a division of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol) found the cars. We were just conferring Monday. We decided the Custer County Sheriff’s Office would be the investigating agency. The others – the Lake Patrol, the OSBI or the medical examiner – would defer their findings to us. It would prevent confusion.
“The families need answers too, and that way they have one place to go rather than calling around to different agencies.”
Peoples said Gary Williams, the brother, was among those who didn’t know who was doing what, and everybody just needed some place to go for information.
Williams has written a lengthy letter about his findings and beliefs. It was published in its entirety in the Oct. 16 edition of the Sayre Record.
Meantime, Beckham County Sheriff Scott Jay told the Clinton Daily News on Sept. 26 – nine days after the two cars with their six sets of human remains were pulled from the water – that he was assigning one deputy fulltime in an effort to find out what happened the night the Camaro and its three occupants disappeared. His interest stems from the fact that the car was last seen in Beckham County, as was Jimmy Williams, and the Beckham County S.O. had conducted three previous investigations into their disappearances.
Attempts to reach Sheriff Jay were unsuccessful Wednesday.