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Bodies of mother and daughter removed from lake 23 years after missing, Arkansas cops say


Twenty-three years after an Arkansas mother and 22-month-old daughter went missing, a nonprofit search group has helped end their family.

Human remains that authorities say belong to Samantha Jean Hopper and her daughter, Courtney Holt, were found in a car out of Lake Dardanelle in Arkansas on Tuesday, according to the Pope County Sheriff’s Office. A research team from the Adventures with Purpose group has made the discovery.

The remains will be sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab for DNA testing, authorities said.

The mother was traveling to drop off her daughter before going to a concert on September 11, 1998, when they disappeared, the sheriff’s office said. His vehicle was not located until Tuesday, when Adventures with Purpose researchers used sonar to find Hopper’s blue Ford Tempo in about eight feet of water 25 yards from the bank, according to the sheriff.

A team of divers who assisted Adventures with Purpose said authorities had been notified and a towing company had removed the car from the lake. Inside the car were human remains, which the sheriff’s office said are those of Hopper and his daughter.

“The Pope County Sheriff’s Office would like to extend our sincere condolences to the family of Samantha Hopper and Courtney Holt, and we are grateful to have contributed a small portion to help bring this 23-year case to a close,” Sheriff Shane Jones said. in a press release.

Hopper was 19 years old and 8 months pregnant at the time of her disappearance, according to The Charley Project.

The mother and daughter’s family were at the scene, divers said. They described it as “heartbreaking” to see the family’s tears, which came after “23 years and 9 hours of excruciating torture.”

But, said the divers, “It was also incredibly heartwarming to see the smiles on the faces and the weight released from the shoulders knowing they were potentially bringing loved ones home.”

Adventures with Purpose said it was an “honor” to bring Hopper home and was “humbled by the opportunity.”

The nonprofit organization’s website says they have helped resolve 16 cold cases of missing persons since 2019.

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