Vehicle Matching Description of 1998 Missing Persons Case Discovered in Arkansas

Human remains were recently found inside of a vehicle that matched the description of a car belonging to an Arkansas woman that went missing 23 years ago.

According to the Pope County Sheriff's Office in Arkansas, the vehicle was discovered on Tuesday by the non-profit group, Adventures with Purpose, "who travel the country working on Cold Cases."

The sheriff's office said that the received a 911 call from Adventures with Purpose who informed them that they found a vehicle that matched the description of one that belonged to Samantha Jean Hopper, who went missing on September 11, 1998.

"Samantha was reported to have been traveling to drop her daughter, Courtney Holt, off before continuing on to a concert in Little Rock; however, Samantha, her daughter, and her blue Ford Tempo were never located," the Pope County Sheriff's Office said.

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Adventures with Purpose said in a Facebook post that they were assisted by a dive team, Hopper's mother and daughter as well as one of her close friends.

"Working from clues as to Samantha's habits, and events of that day in 1998, both dive teams split up to scan multiple locations in the area of Lake Dardanelle with AWP taking the route along Mill Creek, sending Chaos Divers into the Illinois Bayou near Pleasant View Road," the Facebook post said.

According to Adventures with Purpose, a member of Chaos Divers noticed a target using sonar technology under the West Pleasant View Road Bridge.

"Jared and Jacob we able to attach a magnet with Doug diving down to identify the missing blue Ford Tempo with missing license plate due to being a new car," Adventures with Purpose said.

After the vehicle was discovered underwater, Adventures with Purpose reported it to police who arrived on scene to assist with removing the vehicle from the water. A local towing company was also called to hoist the vehicle out of the water.

"Once removed from the water, the vehicle was found to have human remains that will be sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab in Little Rock for DNA testing," the Pope County Sheriff's Office said.

According to Adventures with Purpose, Hopper was eight months pregnant when she disappeared and when the vehicle was removed from the water a car seat was discovered in the back seat. Adventures with Purpose said that while they do not yet have confirmation that Hopper's 18-month-old daughter was in the recovered vehicle, they believe "this will be confirmed in the next 24-hours that she was indeed inside."

Pope County Sheriff Shane Jones said in a statement that the sheriff's office "would like to send our sincere condolences to the family of Samantha Hopper and Courtney Holt."

"We are thankful to have been a small part of helping bring this 23-year-old case to closure," Jones added.

Newsweek was directed to the press release after reaching out to the Pope County Sheriff's Office for comment.

Police Line
A vehicle matching the description of one belonging to a woman that went missing in 1998 was recently discovered in Arkansas. Above, police tape hangs across the street in front of a house in Park City, Kansas on February 26, 2005. Larry W. Smith/Getty