Officials confirmed a body found in an SUV that was submerged in a Pennsylvania creek is James Amabile, who had been missing since 2003. The SUV and body wereearlier in March by a group of YouTube volunteer divers who have helped crack cold cases around the country.
When the vehicle was first discovered, Ridley Township police noted that the license plate number matched that of Amabile’s missing SUV, but a proper identification of the remains had not yet been made.
The vehicle was recovered from the creek Monday and the remains were identified Tuesday. The Delaware County Medical Examiner’s Office was able to make the identification using dental records.
According to CBS Philly, an anonymous tip initially led the group to the site in a section of Darby Creek located just south of Philadelphia
When the car was first discovered, it was submerged in 24 feet of water. Diver Doug Bishop said that workers had unknowingly drilled a pylon through the submerged SUV while building a dock.
“When we discovered that vehicle, there was a pylon that had been drilled right through the front end of this vehicle. I had never seen anything like this, completely blew my mind,” Bishop said in a YouTube video.
Amabile went missing in December 2003 after he called his babysitter to tell her he was running five minutes late to pick up his two daughters.
Police said they hope the discovery brings closure to Amabile’s family, who has been searching for information about his disappearance for nearly two decades, CBS Philly reports.
“This is something that we’ve been investigating for a long time,” Ridley Township Police Captain James Dougherty said. “It wasn’t just the initial missing person. It was following a lot of leads over the years, following a lot of different theories as far as the whereabouts of the missing person. So for us and for the family, it’s closure if it is the victim.”
The group of divers, called Adventures With Purpose, says they have helped solve 28 cold cases so far, and they are working on two more local cases, including one in Cape May and one in Philadelphia.
“At this moment we want to take a moment to express our sympathies to the entire Amabile family as they navigate this tragic outcome to a nightmare that has lasted 18 years,” the divers wrote in the YouTube video’s description last week.