Car belonging to missing Ohio family found in river nearly 20 years later

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Police and dive teams searched the Ohio River using side scan sonar technology. Dive teams eventually located the family’s SUV near Aurora, Indiana. (Indiana State Police)

AURORA, Illinois (WANE) – Detectives in Indiana and Ohio may be closer to solving a missing-persons investigation after a vehicle connected to a 2002 case was located in the Ohio River.

Stephanie Van Nguyen, 26, and her children Kristina, 4, and John, 3, of Delhi, Ohio, were last seen in April 2002. Before their disappearance, Nguyen had left behind a note, relaying her intentions to drive into the Ohio River. Her Nissan Pathfinder SUV was never found.

The Delhi Township Police Department recently decided to investigate the case once more, this time using side sonar scan technology to search the river. The scan eventually led divers to a 1997 Nissan Pathfinder in the Ohio River, near Aurora, Indiana. The plates on the car confirmed it had belonged to Nguyen.

A towing company, working with dive teams from the nearby Hamilton County Police Association and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, extracted the car from the river on Wednesday. The SUV was then transported to another location for further investigation.

The Dehli County Police Department wrote on Facebook that that its original search efforts in 2002 “went cold” after a long investigation. Earlier this year, however, the department employed side scan sonar technology to more easily search the riverbed, resulting in the discovery of “three unique objects” during the last six months, and eventually the discovery of Nguyen’s SUV.

“Indiana State Police is now assisting Delhi Police to determine if Mrs. Nguyen and her children were in the vehicle,” the Dehli police department wrote.

The Ohio Attorney General has also kept a missing-persons report open for the Nguyens, along with age-processed photos of the kids as they may have looked as teens.

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