Cold case divers find missing woman's car — and 2 other vehicles

·2 min read

Less than an hour into a search, a team of cold case divers located three cars in the Brazos River in Texas, officials said Wednesday, including one driven by a woman who went missing more than four years ago.

Police in Waco said Wednesday night that investigators positively confirmed the vehicle identification number of the recovered vehicle as the Kia Rio belonging to missing 43-year-old Stephanie Torres, who who disappeared on December 21, 2017. Authorities also said a body was recovered from the car.

"Due to the current state of the body, investigators are not able to positively identify if the body found is Torres'," Waco Police spokesperson Cierra Shipley said in a statement.

A team of cold case divers located a car in the Brazos River in Texas on Wednesday that matches the description of a vehicle driven by a woman who went missing more than four years ago.  / Credit: KWTX
A team of cold case divers located a car in the Brazos River in Texas on Wednesday that matches the description of a vehicle driven by a woman who went missing more than four years ago. / Credit: KWTX

Earlier Wednesday, Shipley told reporters at the scene that the vehicle was missing a license plate and that investigators would be looking for the VIN to positively identify the car.

Police said it was initially reported that Torres may have been intoxicated and suicidal on the night she went missing. She had left her wallet and cellphone behind, officials said. Police said "every lead came up empty" and the case was suspended in February 2019 after no additional evidence came to light.

Stephanie Torrez.  / Credit: Waco Police Dept.
Stephanie Torrez. / Credit: Waco Police Dept.

Authorities said Wednesday they were able to retrieve the car from the Brazos River with the help of the fire department and divers from Adventures With Purpose, a group that travels the country trying to solve cold cases. The divers said they found the Kia Rio upside down, 55 feet from shore and 13 feet underwater.

Members of Torres' family shed tears after investigators pulled the car out of the river, CBS affiliate KWTX reported.

In a Facebook video, divers with Adventures With Purpose said they had met with Torres' family, including her daughter Bianca, near the river on Wednesday morning.

They said that "working from clues as to the events prior Stephanie last being seen," they were able to locate three vehicles in the river within an hour after the search began and one of them "resembled the vehicle of Stephanie Torres."

Police said the other two vehicles will be recovered at a later date due to fading daylight and a cold front approaching the area..

Adventures With Purpose is among an increasing number of sleuthing YouTubers who try to independently solve cold cases around the country. The group posts its searches on its YouTube channel, which has more than 1.7 million subscribers.

"It is our honor to have brought Stephanie Torres home," the group wrote.

If you or someone you know might be at risk of suicide, there is help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text a crisis counselor at 741741 or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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