(UnitedVoice.com) – Two Tennessee families have finally found closure, 21 years after their teenage children disappeared in a mystery that baffled the state. There’s no happy ending to this tale, but at least the truth has been revealed.
— Ken Murphy (@Murphs51) December 10, 2021
On April 3, 2000, 18-year-old Erin Foster dropped her brother home in Sparta, Tennessee, then headed to a party with her friend Jeremy Bechtel, 17. They never came home. After a week, their families reported them missing, but the investigation was derailed by wild rumors that flew around the town. Some said the teens had run away to Florida; some said they’d been murdered in a drug deal that went sour. Nobody really knew.
Then, last month, YouTuber Jeremy “Nug” Sides arrived in Sparta. Sides hosts a channel called Exploring with Nug, in which he solves cold cases by searching underwater. He focused on Foster’s car, which had never been found. “Cars don’t just disappear,” he says. “Nine times out of ten they’re in the water.”
In late November, Sides posted a video showing his unsuccessful search of a lake near Sparta – and one of the people who saw it was White County Sheriff Steve Page. By coincidence, Page had recently found a 21-year-old missing persons report mislaid by one of his predecessors, and it mentioned the teens had driven down Highway 84. Part of 84 runs along the bank of the Calfkiller River. Realizing Sides had access to better equipment than his own department, Page called him and suggested he search the river.
On November 30, Sides searched the river with his side-scan sonar and quickly located a car. On December 1, he dove on the wreck and found a Pontiac Grand Am like Foster’s. He salvaged the license plate, cleaned it up and confirmed the car was hers.
The sad part of the story is that, in the car, Sides found two sets of human remains. The county coroner hasn’t confirmed the bodies are Foster and Bechtel, but it seems certain they are. Ronnie Bechtel says he’s thankful for “a sense of closure” and a chance bury his son. Cecil and Leigh Ann Foster are hurt by the loss of hope, but can also finally move on.
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