Less than an hour into a search, a team of cold case divers located three cars in the Brazos River in Texas, officials said Wednesday, including one that matches the description of a vehicle driven by a woman who went missing more than four years ago.
Police in Waco said they have not yet identified the Kia Rio as belonging to Stephanie Torres, who disappeared on December 21, 2017, but they confirmed that remains were found inside the car after it was pulled from the water.
"Once the vehicle was recovered, investigators found a small bone fragment," Waco Police spokesperson Cierra Shipley said. "The bone fragment and the vehicle are now being processed for evidence."
Shipley told reporters at the scene that the vehicle was missing a license plate and that investigators would be looking for the vehicle identification number to positively identify the car. She added that crime scene technicians were investigating whether "that bone is connected to Ms. Torres or someone else."
Police said it was initially reported that the 42-year-old Torres may have been intoxicated and suicidal on the night she went missing. She had left her wallet and cellphone behind, officials said. Police said "every lead came up empty" and the case was suspended in February 2019 after no additional evidence came to light.
Authorities said Wednesday they were able to retrieve the car from the Brazos River with the help of the fire department and divers from Adventures With Purpose, a group that travels the country trying to solve cold cases. The divers said they found the Kia Rio upside down, 55 feet from shore and 13 feet underwater.
Members of Torres' family shed tears after investigators pulled the car out of the river, CBS affiliate KWTX reported.
In a Facebook video, divers with Adventures With Purpose said they had met with Torres' family, including her daughter Bianca, near the river on Wednesday morning.
They said that "working from clues as to the events prior Stephanie last being seen," they were able to locate three vehicles in the river within an hour after the search began and one of them "resembled the vehicle of Stephanie Torres."
Police said the other two vehicles will be recovered at a later date due to fading daylight and a cold front approaching the area..
Adventures With Purpose is among an increasing number of YouTube channel, which has more than 1.7 million subscribers.who try to independently solve cold cases around the country. The group posts its searches on its
"It is our honor to have brought Stephanie Torres home," the group wrote.
If you or someone you know might be at risk of suicide, there is help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text a crisis counselor at 741741 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
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