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Tuesday
Sep242013

Car in Creek Tied to Teens Missing Since '71

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(UNION COUNTY, S.D.) -- The discovery of a 1960 Studebaker in a South Dakota creek could be the missing piece to a mysterious cold case from more than 40 years ago.

Cheryl Miller and Pamella Jackson, both 17, were last seen in Union County, South Dakota, on their way to a party on May 29, 1971. They were driving a beige Studebaker Lark that officials believe belonged to one of the girls' grandfather.

Now, 42 years later, it appears that the Studebaker has turned up.

"A fisherman or hunter noticed a wheel in a small creek area, or embankment, in Union County, South Dakota," Sara Rabern, spokeswoman for the South Dakota Office of the Attorney General, told ABC News Tuesday. "He contacted the sheriff."

"The division of criminal investigation was called in and they were able to determine that the license plate belonged to one of the missing girls' grandfather," Rabern said.

She described the operation to recover the car as "pretty delicate" due to the car's condition and said authorities are still working on pulling it out of the creek.

They do not yet know if there are any human remains in the vehicle. It is unknown at this time why the car had not been spotted before, but Rabern said there were historically low water levels this year, which may have helped.

Relatives of the two teenagers have been notified about the car.

"The police department called to let us know before the news came out," a relative of Pamella Jackson told ABC News, asking that he not be identified by name because the family did not yet want to make a formal statement. "They just said they found the car. We know for sure it's the car because the license plates are still on it."

The relative said authorities had not provided the family with any additional information.

"We're kind of surprised that they found it, but we're happy," the relative said. "It's one more piece of the puzzle."

Jackson's father recently died and the family received the news of the car just days after his burial.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio