Remains inside car pulled from NC lake may be Air Force vet missing since '72

FOX News -- Human remains found in a 1968 Pontiac pulled from a North Carolina lake may be those of an Air Force veteran missing for 43 years, authorities said.

Caldwell County sheriff's investigators said Wednesday the car model matches the car belonging to 43-year-old Amos Shook, who was reported missing on Feb. 19, 1972. Sheriff Alan Jones told that his team also recovered a wallet inside the vehicle pulled Tuesday that they believe belonged to Shook.

"We believe it's him," Jones said, though he noted that police were waiting for a positive identification from the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. A complete autopsy report is not expected for two to three months.

Jones said there were no signs of foul play.

"They could come back with something different that will push us in another direction but at this point in time, we don't suspect foul play," he said.

A family member visiting North Carolina from out of state provided the tip that led law enforcement to the lake, according to police.

The vehicle was pulled Tuesday morning, using sonar equipment that was not available in 1972. Jones said the car was found about 150 feet from the shore of Lake Rhodhiss -- which he said stretches for miles. The lake is approximately 75 miles northwest of Charlotte.

The search for Shook, who had retired from the U.S. Air Force, was resumed after decades when his daughter approached Sheriff Alan Jones and investigators last month with a newspaper article about her missing father and asked them to search again. The report did not say whether the daughter specifically asked investigators to search the lake. Shook -- a staff sergeant with the U.S. Navy -- was 43 years old at the time of his disappearance.

"This is one of the oldest cold cases we've worked," said Jones.

Caldwell County is a mainly rural county in the North Carolina foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The county's website says the first modern furniture factories were organized there in 1889. Today, in addition to furniture manufacturing, the county is home to a Google data center as officials attempt to integrate technology and information-based companies into the local economy.