Family of missing men speak out after Washington creek discovery

Family of missing men speak out after Washington creek discovery

A search for a submerged vehicle in a Washington creek continues Saturday morning.

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WITN) – Family members of the three missing men from the 1980s are speaking out after human remains were found in an Eastern Carolina creek.

Bill Clifton was one of the three people to go missing over 40 years ago, along with David McMicken and Michael Norman, after they were last seen in a bar in Chocowinity on December 10th, 1982.

Clifton’s daughter Lea Rose and her mom Wilda Carver sifted through pictures at their home, remembering the days with their loved one.

“I do remember the night my dad went missing,” Rose said. “My mom, my dad, my sister, and I went to go see Santa Claus. We went and saw Christmas lights before we went home and then of course he went out that night to spend time with his friends and never came home.”

Saturday, human remains were found after a vehicle, believed to be the same vehicle the three men were last seen in, was pulled from Jacks Creek in Washington, according to Jason Souhrada, a man who took interest in the case and sparked the search.

“It just felt emotional when I got on site and it kind of just sunk in,” David McMicken’s daughter Kayla Melendres said.

Souhrada tells WITN that the vehicle that was pulled from the waters is believed to be a 1970s-era Camaro. Souhrada originally used a sonar device attached to a boogie board that spotted what looked like a vehicle submerged in the water. Following that discovery, the Washington Police Department, Sidney Dive Team, Highway Patrol, and Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office began focusing on the area of the creek near N. Harvey and E. 5th Streets.

Souhrada said his goal was to be able to help provide closure to families and family members believe he did just that.

“Without Jason taking time away from his family to put that kind of compassion into our family to search for my dad, we wouldn’t be here today,” Rose said.

William Clifton and his family.

William Clifton and his family.

Souhrada tells us that the brackish water in combination with city pumps has destroyed the car leaving no body panels and no chance at a vin number.

Even so, Souhrada says the fact that the nearby route is what the men would have taken to get home and that no other Camaros or people are missing from that long ago has confidence high this is the vehicle and the men.

“It just all adds up. 99 percent sure that it is them. There is a very slim chance that it could not be them but like I said we’re almost positive it’s them,” Souhrada said.

Souhrada says that he just hopes that there is enough evidence to prove that all three of the men were in the vehicle and he was told that it may take months before DNA work is complete.

Rose believes the case is now coming to a close years later but the pain is beginning again like it was in 1982.

“It is very emotional for all of the families but it did bring a sense of relief and I know everyone is still grieving,” Rose said. “The grieving process is starting all over again for three families.”

Police Chief Phil Rollinson told WITN that a press release would be coming within the next day.

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After two days, a vehicle was finally pulled from Jack’s Creek in Washington around 9:00pm on Saturday.

Shortly before that search crews installed a third pump to help retrieve it from about 11 to 12 feet of water.

Officials say the vehicle could be connected to the disappearance of three men more than 40 years ago.

It’s rear axle was recovered on Friday.

Crews Saturday evening are getting closer to pulling a vehicle from an eastern Carolina creek

Crews Saturday evening are getting closer to pulling a vehicle from an eastern Carolina creek

See the previous story below:

A search for a submerged vehicle in a Washington creek continues Saturday morning.

Officials say the vehicle could be connected to the disappearance of three men more than 40 years ago.

Search crews Friday afternoon recovered the rear axle of a vehicle from Jack’s Creek and are pumping water out to get better access to what’s left on the creek bed.

Washington Police Chief Phil Rollinson tells WITN that the Sidney Dive Team was searching the creek for a possible vehicle.

Rollinson didn’t want to share too many details about the situation but says they have been at the scene for some time.

Other agencies assisting at the scene include the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office and the Highway Patrol.

City Manager Jonathan Russell says a YouTuber recently made the discovery of a possible vehicle in the water using a boogie board with sonar attached. Russell says the efforts Friday morning began around 10:30 a.m. and divers had trouble dealing with bad water quality.

Jason Souhrada tells WITN that he has been in touch with family members of three missing men from the early 1980s and that led him to design a sonar device that could check areas where boats couldn’t get to.

Souhrada says his images appear to show a vehicle upside down in about 11 feet of water that’s been there a long time.

This sonar image could show an upside down vehicle covered in mud on the bottom of the creek.

This sonar image could show an upside down vehicle covered in mud on the bottom of the creek.

The axle was brought up around 1:00 p.m. Friday before authorities decided to start pumping out water.

WITN’s Merit Morgan is at the scene. Stay with WITN as we bring updates on this developing story.

Dive team members in Jack's Creek Friday morning.

Dive team members in Jack’s Creek Friday morning.

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