Nation & World

Bone in sunken SUV belongs to woman who vanished with kids 20 years ago, Ohio cops say

Stephanie Van Nguyen was reported missing, along with her two kids, in April 2002, Ohio police said.
Stephanie Van Nguyen was reported missing, along with her two kids, in April 2002, Ohio police said. Provided by Delhi Township Police Department.

Human remains found in an SUV submerged in the Ohio River belong to a woman who went missing 20 years ago, investigators said.

In April 2002, Delhi, Ohio, woman Stephanie Van Nguyen vanished along with her two kids, 3-year-old John and 4-year-old Kristina, the Delhi Township Police Department said. Nguyen left behind a note, saying she was going to drive into the Ohio River.

“A lengthy investigation began, however, the case went cold,” Delhi police said.

It wasn’t until recently that authorities found any sign of the missing mother.

With help from authorities in both Ohio and Indiana – and “advancements of side scan sonar technology” – the police department began looking into the case again.

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Authorities from Ohio and Indiana scoured the Ohio River for signs of Stephanie Van Nguyen. Provided by Indiana State Police.

For six months, crews scanned portions of the Ohio River. Then in October, they found something: a 1997 Nissan Pathfinder, the same model Nguyen drove, sunken in the river.

Aside from the vehicle, dive teams recovered another big piece of evidence: a human fibula bone, according to Indiana State Police Sgt. Stephen Wheeles.

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In October, 2021, authorities found and recovered Stephanie Van Nguyen’s 1997 Nissan Pathfinder, which was submerged in the Ohio River. Provided by Indiana State Police.

Indiana and Ohio authorities have been working together on the investigation.

The bone was handed over to a team of expert anthropologists with the University of Indianapolis, who recently determined it matches Nguyen, the ISP announced Jan. 10.

However, no other remains were found, so the children – John and Kristina – are still considered missing, according to Wheeles.

“I am happy we were able to finally give Ms. Nguyen’s family some closure in this almost two decade long search for their loved one,” Wheeles said.

Another dive to search for any possible remaining clues or evidence is planned “once the weather improves,” he said.

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This story was originally published January 11, 2022 9:46 AM.

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