Pope County authorities have recovered a car matching the description of a vehicle that belonged to a woman who went missing 23 years ago, the sheriff’s office said Wednesday morning.

Human remains were found inside, according to a press release from the Pope County Sheriff’s Office.

At around 12:30 p.m., MPs received a call to 911 indicating that people may have located a vehicle matching the description of one belonging to Samantha Jean Hopper in the water near the 3700 block of Pleasant View Road, the statement said.

Hopper was reported missing on September 11, 1998, authorities said.

Hopper reportedly traveled to drop off his daughter before continuing on to a concert in Little Rock. However, she, along with her daughter and her blue Ford Tempo, were never located, the statement said.

Authorities said the vehicle was about 25 meters from shore in about 8 feet of water.

Once recovered from the water, authorities found human remains that will be sent to the national crime lab for DNA testing, the statement said.

The vehicle was found by the nonprofit group Adventures with Purpose, which is traveling the country to work on cold cases, the statement said. The search was part of the group’s fall 2021 trip, which has pledged to work 27 cold cases looking for 36 missing people, according to its website.

An update from the organization’s Facebook page says a team of divers met the group on Tuesday, along with Samantha’s mother and another daughter, who was 3 when the woman went missing.

Dive teams have split up to cover several locations in the Dardanelle Lake area, with the organization taking a route along Mill Creek, sending divers into the Illinois bayou near Pleasant View Road, the post said.

A sonar target has been identified under the West Pleasant View Road Bridge, according to the post. The team found a blue Ford Tempo with a missing license plate.

Although a car seat was in the back of the vehicle, the organization said on Tuesday it had not obtained confirmation whether her daughter was inside the car.

This story has been updated. It was originally posted at 10:38 a.m.


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