Cheryl Miller and Pamella Jackson went missing in 1971 when they were both only 17 years old. They were last seen driving a beige Studebaker Lark and headed to a party. Over the years, many rumors have surrounded the disappearances of the two teenagers. A A man already serving a prison sentence on unrelated charges was indicted for murder in the deaths of Miller and Jackson in 2007, but the charges were dropped after prosecutors found out that a supposed confession given to a fellow inmate was faked.
In 2004 a cold case unit was formed in June 2004 to focus on unsolved suspicious deaths and disappearances in South Dakota. The 1971 case was one of the first ones investigated by the unit but was still unsolved.
“A fisherman or hunter noticed a wheel in a small creek area, or embankment, in Union County, S.D.,” Sara Rabern, spokeswoman for the South Dakota Office of the Attorney General, said. “He contacted the sheriff.”
“The division of criminal investigation was called in and they were able to determine that the license plate belonged to one of the missing girls’ grandfather,” Rabern said.
Many people were curious as to why the car had never been spotted before now. Rabern said that the water levels were at a record low.
“The police department called to let us know before the news came out,” a relative of Pamella Jackson said, asking that he not be identified by name because the family did not yet want to make a formal statement. “They just said they found the car. We know for sure it’s the car because the license plates are still on it.”
“We’re kind of surprised that they found it, but we’re happy,” the relative said. “It’s one more piece of the puzzle.”
Image from ABC News.