Human bone found in vehicle connected to 20-year-old missing persons cold case in Ohio

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Stephanie Van Nguyen (left) along with her two children 4-year-old Kristina (center) and 3-year-old John (right), have been missing since 2002.
Stephanie Van Nguyen (left) along with her two children 4-year-old Kristina (center) and 3-year-old John (right), have been missing since 2002.

A vehicle connected to the disappearance of a mother and her two children nearly 20 years ago has been recovered, and the Indiana State Police confirmed human remains were found inside the vehicle on Tuesday.

Stephanie Van Nguyen, 26, went missing in April 2002 along with her two children, 4-year-old Kristina Nguyen and 3-year-old John Nguyen.

Nguyen left a note saying she was going to drive into the Ohio River, police said. She and her children were never found, and the case eventually went cold until police reopened it this year.

Lt. Joe Macaluso said the note was found by Nguyen's family, who reported her missing.

It's unusual for a missing persons case to go unsolved for so long, Macaluso said. "Oftentimes, we are able to locate missing people sooner than later."

The investigation was reopened due in part to the upcoming 20th anniversary of Nguyen's and her children's disappearance, Macaluso said. "We've always kept this as a case that has been on our minds and in our hearts."

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On Oct.13, dive teams were called to a scene at the river where three unique objects has appeared using sonar technology. There, the vehicle, a 1997 Nissan Pathfinder, in which Nguyen and her children were last seen, was discovered near Aurora, Indiana, the release states.

An updated report put out by the Indiana State Police confirms that anthropologists believe human remains – a bone – were found in the vehicle.

The vehicle was found at a depth of more than 50 feet and was about 300 feet from the riverbank, Indiana State Police said, adding the license plate confirmed it belonged to Nguyen.

USA TODAY intern Keira Wingate contributed to this report.

This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Vehicle connected to 20-year-old cold case recovered from Ohio River

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