Man vanished after a 2006 party, Vermont cops say. His truck was just found in a river

TOBY TALBOT/AP

Almost 16 years since the disappearance of a 34-year-old Vermont man, new evidence has been found that may help bring the case to a close, according to state officials.

Donald Messier of Waterbury, a rural town in Northern Vermont, was last seen on Oct. 15, 2006, at a party in a nearby town, according to the Vermont State Police.

He didn’t show up for work the following Monday, and his family, who said he was depressed and potentially suicidal, reported him missing three days later, according to police.

Messier, an employee of a Green Mountain Coffee Roasters plant, was in the midst of a divorce at the time of his disappearance, according to the Barre Montpelier Times Argus, a local newspaper.

“But he was making jokes, talking with us about the future and making plans,” his sister told the newspaper.

After years of searching and renewed interest last year on the 15th anniversary of his disappearance, the case remained cold. Police said they received some tips over the years, but nothing substantial, according to the Valley Reporter.

But on Oct. 5, about one week after Messier’s 50th birthday, a team of divers notified investigators that they had recovered a truck they believe to be his at the bottom of the Winooski River, which feeds into Lake Champlain, according to a news release from the Vermont State Police.

In photos posted online by the Waterbury Roundabout, a diver can be seen holding a warped and blackened Vermont license plate, which was recovered from the truck.

Divers said the license plate matched Messier’s, according to MyChamplainValley.com, and the Waterbury Roundabout reported that the truck was “confirmed to be his vehicle.”

Police did not say whether any remains were found inside the vehicle. The scene remains active and the investigation is in its early stages.

“We’ve wrapped up operations for the day, will hold the scene overnight, and return in the morning with our Scuba Team for further searching of the river,” a Vermont State Police public information officer told McClatchy News.

A former coworker of Messier’s, in a public Facebook group called Forever friends of Donnie Messier wrote, “[I] miss his laugh and he had such a great smile and can say he was a great friend.”

In response to the news of the discovered truck, Shawn Corbeil wrote, “Hopefully they can finally solve this allowing the family to get answers and healing; Donnie was a great guy.”

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