The remains of a missing Missouri Army veteran have been discovered, police believe, following a 10-year investigation — thanks to the hard work of a popular YouTuber and scuba diver.
The discovery appears to close the case of the mysterious 2013 disappearance of Donnie Erwin, who left home four days after Christmas that year and was never seen or heard from again.
According to a news release from the Camden County Sheriff’s Office, popular YouTuber James Hinkle contacted a property owner near Southern Camden County pond near the community of Camdenton.
Hinkle told the owner of the property that he was working with the television series “Beyond the Case” and asked for permission to search a pond located just off a busy roadway.
The YouTuber was granted permission to use a drone over the small body of water, which showed him what appeared to be a submerged vehicle.
“He arranged with the property owner to search the area on foot and by kayak and found a light-colored submerged passenger car in the pond,” the sheriff’s office said last week in a news release. “Mr. Hinkle has been interested in the Donnie Erwin missing persons case for many years and operates the YouTube channel, Echo Divers.”
Echo Divers, which has posted about Erwin’s case frequently for more than a year, shared a clip of a car that police pulled from the pond, as well as his initial drone footage.
According to the sheriff’s office, investigators converged on the pond after Hinkle called to report the presence of a vehicle.
It was confirmed to have belonged to Erwin.
“Divers searched the pond and verified the license plate on the submerged vehicle matched the plate on Mr. Erwin’s missing Hyundai,” the sheriff’s office said.
Erwin’s family was notified of the discovery of his car while investigators thanked community members who had spent years attempting to locate the missing man.
On Christmas Day, the sheriff’s office said it had used cadaver dogs on the pond on Saturday, which alerted them to the presence of human remains.
The following day, an artificial hip similar to one that belonged to Erwin was found.
BREAKING UPDATE: Authorities in Camden County have recovered the car of Donnie Erwin, who went missing from Camdenton in 2013.
— ksprnews (@ksprnews) December 17, 2023
The sheriff’s office said it believed that the remains were those of the missing man, but a forensic pathologist would make the final determination.
Erwin left before dawn on the morning of his disappearance to go to a store to buy cigarettes, the New York Post reported.
One common theory was that he had left home to commit suicide.
According to Hinkle, Erwin left home without his eyeglasses. The YouTuber believes the veteran might have been involved in a horrible accident.
The discovery reportedly offered members of Erwin’s family closure they have been seeking for 10 years.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.