A local YouTuber in Missouri has played a pivotal role in uncovering human remains believed to be those of a man missing since 2013, according to the Camden County Sheriff's Office.
James Hinkle, a videographer and operator of the YouTube channel Echo Divers, made the significant discovery while filming with his drone over a private pond.
Hinkle, who is based in Clinton, Missouri, was investigating the area for clues related to the disappearance of Donnie Erwin, who was 59 years old when he vanished from Camdenton, Missouri, in December 2013. The breakthrough came when Hinkle’s drone footage revealed a submerged vehicle in the pond, a Hyundai believed to belong to the missing man.
The Camden County Sheriff's Office, in a recent news release, detailed how divers confirmed that the vehicle’s license plate number matched Erwin’s car.
However, the initial search did not uncover any human remains. The case saw a significant development during the weekend preceding Christmas. Cadaver dogs brought to the scene alerted detectives to a specific area in the pond, leading to the recovery of human remains and an artificial hip consistent with the one Mr. Erwin had.
Hinkle, who also leads a scuba diving search and rescue team, was motivated by the fact that Erwin was a veteran. “When I found out that Donnie was a veteran and lived an hour and a half from my home, I knew I could help with the search,” he said in a statement to CNN via Facebook.
The remains and the artificial hip are currently undergoing forensic analysis for definitive identification, but the Camden County Sheriff’s Office expressed confidence that they belong to Mr. Erwin. The analysis by a forensic pathologist is expected to provide conclusive evidence in the case.
Donnie Erwin was last seen around 9:30 a.m. on December 29, 2013, and his disappearance has remained a mystery for nearly a decade. This latest discovery, aided by modern technology and the determination of a local YouTuber, brings hope of closure to a case that has long perplexed the authorities and the community.