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YouTuber finds human remains believed to be man missing for 10 years

A YouTuber and videographer led police to the car of a missing man, and they believe his remains were found, too.
Donnie Erwin is pictured.
Posted at 7:44 PM, Dec 27, 2023

A YouTuber helped lead Missouri police to hidden human remains, thereby potentially solving a missing person's case dating back 10 years.

James Hinkle, who operates the YouTube channel Echo Divers, had been flying his drone the afternoon of Dec. 16 when he spotted a vehicle submerged in a private property's small pond, prompting him to immediately alert Camden County authorities. 

Hinkle had been searching the area for clues in the disappearance of Donnie Erwin, a 59-year-old veteran who went missing from Camdenton along with his Hyundai Elantra in December 2013. 

The sheriff's office and a dive team arrived at the property soon after the videographer's call. Upon searching the pond, they discovered the submerged vehicle was a Hyundai Elantra, and its license plate matched that of Erwin, Camden County detectives said.

Camden County Sheriff's Office

Though investigators didn't find any remains when recovering the vehicle that Saturday, cadaver dogs helping in another search a week later alerted to the presence of human remains near the center of the pond. Then, on Christmas Eve, divers searched the center location and recovered human remains from the pond.

The sheriff's office said an artificial hip was recovered at the scene that was consistent with one Erwin had. And although investigators are confident the remains and the hip belong to Erwin, a forensic pathologist has to fully declare the identification.

Nonetheless, investigators have notified Erwin's family of the discovery. 

"All of us at the Camden County Sheriff's Office who have investigated this case for 10 years are elated at the recovery and overjoyed with the closure we know this brings to the family," the Camden County Sheriff's Office said. "This development would not have been possible without the assistance of countless volunteers throughout the years. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you all."

San Diego family searching for missing parents
A picture of the Soto family.

San Diego family searching for missing parents

Johnny and Melissa Soto were last heard from on Dec. 20.