A 26-year-old Indiana mom disappeared in 2002 with her two toddlers leaving her family a note informing them she was going to drive into the Ohio River.
But investigators spent years searching for Stephanie Van Nguyen’s 1997 Nissan Pathfinder to no avail, prompting them to suspect the note she had left.
Last year, Delhi Township Police Officer Heather Taylor decided to “beat the clock to the 20th anniversary” of Nguyen’s case and use new technology to search for the remains of the mom and her two children, aged 3 and 4.
Using “side sonar technology” to examine the Ohio River bed was like “looking for a needle in a haystack in a field of haystacks,” Taylor said, but it was worth the pain.
The SUV of the missing family was located on Oct. 14, 50 feet below the surface, 300 feet from the riverbank. It had an identical registration plate and inside it, detectives found a human fibula.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation along with the University of Indiana experts positively identified the bone as Nguyen’s. Now divers are waiting for better weather conditions to resume the search for more remains.
“I am happy we were able to finally give Ms. Nguyen’s family some closure in this almost two-decades-long search for their loved one,” the coroner’s office said.
Officer Taylor added: “Everybody deserves to come home. Everybody deserves to be found.”