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Remains of pregnant Samantha Jean Hopper and daughter who went missing 23 years ago are discovered in vehicle

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Arkansas authorities say they received a phone call Tuesday notifying them that a car matching the description of the one belonging to a 23-year cold case victim was found submerged in eight feet of water.

The vehicle's description, according to nonprofit group Adventures with Purpose, matched that of Samantha Jean Hopper, a pregnant 20-year-old mother who was reported missing alongside her 22-month-old daughter in 1998.

The group, according to its website, travels around the country attempting to solve cold cases.

What are the details?

Investigators in Pope County, Arkansas, said the vehicle was located in a body of water in Russellville on Tuesday.

According to a report from The Independent, the group met with Hopper's mother, Debbie Mahan, and Dezarae Carpenter, another one of Hopper's daughters who was just 3 years old when her mother and sister disappeared.

Dive teams, according to reports, split up to scan areas of Lake Dardanelle, Mill Creek, and the Illinois Bayou when they located the vehicle, which was submerged in water.

A crane and towing service worked with first responders to pull the vehicle from eight feet of water, and authorities discovered human remains inside the vehicle when the car was towed to shore.

The remains were sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab in Little Rock for DNA testing, the sheriff's office said in a release.

On Sept. 11, 1998, a pregnant Hopper was traveling to drop off her 22-month-old daughter, Courtney Holt, before heading to a Little Rock concert when the two went missing. It is not clear what transpired that led to the car ending up in the Russellville body of water.

In a statement on the discovery, Pope County Sheriff Shane Jones said, "The Pope County Sheriff's Office would like to send our sincere condolences to the family of Samantha Hopper and Courtney Holt. We are thankful to have been a small part of helping bring this 23-year-old case to closure."

What's next?

A post Adventures with Purpose's Facebook page on Thursday read, "Samantha and her 2 babies have now been brought home. Please help us in helping her family raise the necessary funds to lay them to rest by donating on Ever Loved at the account Dezarea (Samantha's daughter) has set up."

A crowdfunding page to support funerals for Hooper and her children has received more than $1,500 in donations at the time of this reporting.

Arkansas cold case: Human remains found in car in Pope County

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