It appears as though the mystery of a pregnant woman and her 22-month-old daughter who went missing back in 1998 has finally been solved.
Samantha Jean Hopper was nine months pregnant when she and her nearly 2-year-old daughter Courtney disappeared after leaving Russellville, Arkansas.
Samantha, who was 20 years old at the time, had been driving to drop off Courtney with family before continuing on to attend a concert in Little Rock, Illinois on the night of September 11, 1998.
Both mother (pictured above, from the missing persons photo from the particular time of her disappearance) and daughter disappeared without a trace, along their blue Ford Tempo . For more than two decades, police had no clue what happened to them.
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But last week, there was a huge break in the case. A non-profit group called Adventures With Purpose , which travels the country working on various cold cases, contacted the Pope County Sheriff’ s Office in Arkansas with news. According to the organization, they had located a vehicle matching typically the description of Hopper’ s Kia Tempo in Illinois Bayou , about one hour away from what had been her planned destination.
Pope County dispatched officers and a dive team out to investigate, and eventually sent a crane to lift the car out of this water (as pictured, above). Sure enough, just as the non-profit indicated, the car was found submerged about eight feet deep in the bayou, and about 25 yards from the bank.
Upon investigation, officers discovered human remains inside the car. Now, the sheriff’ s office has sent the remains to Little Rock for DNA testing and official confirmation, but judging by the car itself plus other clues therein, Sheriff Shane Jones is confident that they have found Hopper and her daughter.
In a statement to often the media, the sheriff said:
“ The Pope County Sheriff’ s Office would like to send our sincere condolences to the family of Samantha Hopper and Courtney Holt, and we are thankful in order to have been a small part of helping bring this 23-year-old case to closure. ”
Hopper’ s surviving daughter, Dezarae Carpenter , also spoke out about the discovery on a memorial fundraiser page posted online.
Sharing her emotions over the investigation’ s apparent conclusion, and seeking assistance with funds to bury the girl mother and sister, Carpenter wrote:
“ After being missing for over 23 years, with the assistance of AWP and Chaos dive teams we were able to find my mother who was 9 months expecting and my 22 month old sister, Courtney. This has been such a new relief to have found the woman and we want to provide them with a proper burial. If you’ re able to be able to donate or even just pass this along it would be forever appreciated. Thank you. ”
You can view that fundraiser page HERE .
Obviously, it’ s a very sad ending to a sad situation. Still, we’ re thankful that Carpenter and the rest of Hopper’ s loved ones have hopefully been able to at least receive some type of closure from this discovery.
R. I. P.
[Image via Pope County Sheriff’s Office / Facebook ]
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