LENOIR, N.C. (AP) — The widow of a man who disappeared 43 years ago and whose remains are believed to be those found in a car submerged in a western North Carolina lake said Friday that she and her family are relieved that their anguish appears to be over.
"After 43 years, you don't know what to say," Katie Shook, 79, said as she and her family member filed out of the Caldwell County Sheriff's Office after an emotional meeting with investigators that lasted approximately two hours. "It was such a relief that I totally went into shock when they said they had finally found him. All I can say is God answered my prayers that he would be found before I die."
The family arrived at the sheriff's office in Lenoir from across Tennessee. As they emerged from the sheriff's office, their faces showed the emotions of the possible closure in the case. Their meeting with investigators included a moment to look at the car that shed new light on a mystery dating back to the Nixon administration.
The rusty, mud-caked 1968 Pontiac sedan was pulled from the bottom of Lake Rhodiss on Tuesday. Investigators believe the human remains found in the car belong to Amos Shook, a retired Air Force sergeant who was reported missing on Feb. 19, 1972. The model matches the car that belonged to Shook, and investigators found his identification and wallet in the car.
Katie Shook said she has no idea what may have happened that night, noting that the site where the car went into the lake is less than 2 miles from the home they shared in the town of Sawmills.
"As a family, we will work with the sheriff's office to bring the case to a final resolution but for today, we say thank you for all the prayers and condolences we have received since the car was found," the family said in a statement.
The remains were sent to the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for an autopsy. Medical examiners will try to use dental records for a positive identification, but may need to use DNA testing that could take weeks.
Caldwell County Sheriff's Lt. Aaron Barlowe said his office has received a number of calls about the case, and while he noted that none of the calls have produced any facts, he declined to say specifically how many calls had come in. He did say investigators would follow up on every lead.
"Any information is good information," Barlowe said. "We're going to follow every lead."