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Authorities Didn’t Find the Remains of a Missing Man for 10 Years — But a YouTuber Just Solved the Mystery

Key Takeaways

  • A YouTuber’s drone discovery led investigators to a Hyundai Elantra in a pond on December 16, 2023.

  • In a subsequent search, detectives located remains and an artificial hip believed to be Donald Erwin’s, who had been missing since 2013.

The case of a missing man in Camdenton, Missouri that’s been unsolved since December 2013 is finally seeing some answers — and authorities have a YouTuber to thank.

Nearly a decade after 59-year-old Donald Erwin’s disappearance, YouTuber and videographer James Hinkle helped authorities locate human remains on Sunday in a private pond, according to a news release from the Camden County Sheriff’s Office.

Hinkle runs the YouTube channel Echo Divers and oversees a scuba diving search and rescue team.

“When I found out that Donnie was a veteran and lived an hour and a half from my home in Clinton, Missouri, I knew I could help with the search,” Hinkle told CNN via Facebook.

Erwin was last seen at approximately 9:30 a.m. on December 29, 2013, driving a silver 2002 Hyundai Elantra, according to a missing person’s report.

Hinkle pinpointed a vehicle beneath the pond’s surface with his drone and alerted the property’s owners, per the Sheriff’s Office.

On December 16, detectives confirmed the car was Erwin’s Hyundai Elantra. Another search with cadaver dogs in the area on December 24 led investigators to human remains and “an artificial hip consistent with the one Mr. Erwin had.”

Although authorities “are confident” the remains and hip are Erwin’s, a forensic pathologist still has to analyze the findings to confirm.

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