Search and recovery group helps find vehicle linked to 1998 missing persons case in Arkansas

Published: Oct. 30, 2021 at 11:49 AM CDT
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KATV) - A vehicle linked to a missing persons case from 1998 has just been discovered, thanks to one remarkable search and recovery organization.

Solving missing person cold cases is the goal of Adventures with Purpose.

That was achieved Tuesday when vehicle was found linked to Samantha Hopper. She and her daughter went missing in Pope County in 1998.

Human remains were found inside.

“Across the coms comes, ‘I think we found Samantha and her babies’. It’s one of those things where it just drops you,” Jared Leisek, the founder of the organization, said.

It started out as an environmental cleanup project a year and a half ago with the goal of getting as many vehicles as possible out of bodies of water in the Pacific Northwest.

However, it quickly turned into a cold case search team, helping families locate their missing loved ones all over the country.

“Families started seeing that we have this ability to find, float and remove vehicles from the water,” Leisek said. “And they said ‘We have a lost loved one under water, do you think you can come help us?’”

Now they’re in Little Rock, working six different missing persons cases.

This morning using sonar technology, they located a Honda with 2003 tags not too far off the boat ramp at a park. They found five other vehicles at a different park.

It’s unclear whether these are linked to any of the cases. However, when they are, it makes it all worth it.

“It’s priceless to be able to help families that have been suffering get some type of answers that they never had, you know, it’s very powerful,” Doug Bishop, a volunteer, said.

They’ve located a vehicle during a dive about 90-95% of the time and they’ve been able to solve 25% of the cases they’ve worked.

Leisek said he isn’t stopping any time soon.

“I’m still young enough that I still have another 10 to 15 years in me, so let’s see how many families we can help along the way,” he said.

Any time a vehicle is found with human remains or not, the proper authorities are contacted.

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