A South Dakota cold case involving the disappearance of two teenage girls more than 40 years ago has been re-opened for evaluation after authorities found skeletal remains in a 1960 Studebaker pulled from a South Dakota creek.
"Skeletal remains have been recovered as well as additional items. No further information will be released until a requested autopsy and further testing is complete and family members properly notified," the South Dakota Attorney General's Office said in a statement.
According to officials, pieces of evidence from the site where the recovered car was found were taken for processing and for preservation as potential evidence to the unresolved case.
Yahoo! News reported that two 17-year-old girls, Cheryl Miller and Pamella Jackson, were last seen in Union County, South Dakota, on their way to a party on May 29, 1971. Officials said they were driving a beige Studebaker Lark, very similar to the one found today, and it was believed to belong to one of the girls' grandfathers.
Spokeswoman for the South Dakota Office of the Attorney General told ABCNews.com that a fisherman or hunter had discovered a wheel in a remote creek area, or embankment, in Union County, South Dakota, adding, "He contacted the sheriff."
Rabern said the division of criminal investigation was called in right away and they were able to quickly determine that the license plate of the car belonged to one of the grandfathers of the missing girls.
Although it's still a mystery why the Studebaker wasn't spotted in the previous years, Rabern said that the low water levels this year might have helped the car resurface.
Authorities informed the relatives of the two teenagers about the car but provided no further information about the case.
"The police department called to let us know before the news came out," a relative of Pamela Jackson said. "They just said they found the car. We know for sure it's the car because the license plates are still on it."
"We're kind of surprised that they found it, but we're happy," the relative said. "It's one more piece of the puzzle."
Reports stated that Jackson's father had apparently died days after the family received the news about the promising lead to the resolution of the cold case.
Historical data shows tumultuous events. Two men, who were already serving prison sentences, had been indicted in the murder of the girls on two separate occasions. However, both times the charges were dropped after authorities found out that the admissions of the suspects to other inmates turned out to be fake, The Associated Press reported.
Meanwhile, a search of a Union County farm in September 2004 led to the discovery of bones, a purse, photos, clothing, and several other items, but not the Studebaker. However, authorities did not specify whether the bones were human remains or if they were the girls.