WHITE COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — White County families now have a chance for closure after a set of teens went missing decades ago without answers.
Erin Foster, 18, and Jeremy Bechtel, 17, disappeared in April of 2000. Since then, family members and investigators have been looking for the teens on the west side of White County.
“I’ve said many times, they could be right under our noses and we don’t know it,” said White County Sheriff Steve Page.
On Wednesday, Jeremy Sides, a freelance diver, found Foster’s car in the Calfkiller River. The White County Sheriff’s Office was made aware of the 21-year-old discovery.
“The rumors were they went missing from a party down on the west end of the county,” said Sheriff Page. “That they had been at that party at night. I actually got into the file and really got to reading and discovered that they went missing from her house, which is Highway 84 here in White County.”
Sheriff Page pointed Sides in the right direction. Within hours, Foster’s black Pontiac Grand-Am was found 12 Feet underwater covered in silky mud.
“He done what nobody had done before — got in that part of the water and just found the car,” said Sheriff Page. “I prayed for this for years. I prayed that God would help me bring closure to White County and these families that miss their loved ones so much.”
Now, investigators will collect as much evidence as possible in hopes of piecing together what actually happened on that spring night two decades ago.
“I think the two teenagers took her brother home from a game room, asked mom or dad ‘could we stay out a little bit longer. ‘She did. I think they were coming back to town and just run off in the water,” said Sheriff Page. “Can I confirm that? No. But, that’s absolutely what it looks like.”
The Foster family, the Bechtel Family and White County are now one step closer to closure.
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“I give God the Glory,” said Sheriff Page. “I prayed for this, asked God to help me find these teens, to give closure, to help his family finally be able to put this to rest.”
The White County Sheriffs Office and Rescue Squad helped retrieve the vehicle.
Page says it could take months for the car to be cleaned out and have evidence collected. Any remains will be sent to the medical examiner for DNA verification.