Union County Discovery May Be Break in 42-Year-Old Cold Case

"A family has gone 42 years not knowing what has happened to their two 17-year-olds," said South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley.

It could be the break investigators need to solve a 42-year-old cold case: the disappearance of 17-year-olds Cheryl Miller and Pamela Jackson of Vermillion back in May of 1971.

Tonight authorities have temporarily halted recovery of a car was found by a man upside down this morning in Brule Creek, about a half mile from the gravel pit in rural Union County, South Dakota where Miller and Jackson were reportedly heading for a party in 1971.

"Upon my arrival, the vehicle was submerged, we could see the undercarriage of a vehicle and four tires sticking out of the water," said Union County Sheriff Dan Limoges.

In a news conference this afternoon, Limoges and South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley revealed the license plate matches the 1960 Studebaker the girls were last seen driving.

"That vehicle is believed to have been in there about 42 years," Jackley said. "We had recent high water levels followed by all-time low levels which has made this possible, the discovery, certainly it being in the water that long, we want to be careful with it so we make sure we preserve as much evidence as possible so that we can perhaps bring closure to the family of this matter that happened back in May of 1971."

Jackley would not say if any remains had been found at this point.

This discovery comes after a South Dakota cold case squad searched the family farm of prison inmate David Lykken in 2004.

The search turned up bones, clothing, a purse, photographs, newspaper articles and other items, but not the car. Authorities have never said if the bones were even human.

In 2007 Lykken was indicted for murdering the girls, but a year later the charges were dropped after a prison informant admitted he'd lied.