Human Remains Found in Sunken Vehicle Connected to 1998 Missing Persons Case in Arkansas

A 20-year-old pregnant mother, Samantha Jean Hopper, was reportedly traveling with her daughter when she disappeared in September 1998

Human Remains Found in Sunken Vehicle Connected to 1988 Missing Persons Case
Photo: Pope County Sheriff's Office

Human remains tied to a missing person's case in Arkansas from 1998 were recently found in a vehicle, according to local officials.

On Tuesday, the Pope County Sheriff's Office received a 911 call that a car — which matched the description of a missing person's report — was found in a body of water in Russellville, a news release states.

The Pope County Sheriff's Office revealed on Wednesday that the car belonged to Samantha Jean Hopper, a 20-year-old woman who went missing on Sept. 11, 1998.

According to police and the original missing persons report, Hopper — who was pregnant at the time — was reportedly traveling to Little Rock with her 22-month-old daughter, Courtney Holt, when they both disappeared.

"Samantha was reported to have been traveling to drop her daughter, Courtney Holt, off before continuing on to a concert in Little Rock; however, Samantha, her daughter, and her blue Ford Tempo were never located," per the release.

Samantha Jean Hopper
Pope County Sheriff's Office

The vehicle was initially found by local nonprofit Adventures With Purpose, which works specifically on cold cases across the country, per the release. After making the discovery, investigators received assistance from Elmo's Crane Service and Battlecross Towing to remove the vehicle, which was in about eight feet of water.

The human remains found in the recovered vehicle were then sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab in Little Rock for DNA testing, the sheriff's office said.

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"The Pope County Sheriff's Office would like to send our sincere condolences to the family of Samantha Hopper and Courtney Holt, " Pope County Sheriff Shane Jones said in a statement. "We are thankful to have been a small part of helping bring this 23-year-old case to closure."

Jones also thanked Investigator Erick Riggs and other parties who helped on the case.

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