Wreckage of car retrieved from river in New Madrid

Low river levels in the Heartland led to discovery of a vehicle in the Mississippi River over the weekend
Published: Oct. 2, 2022 at 6:20 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 3, 2022 at 5:10 PM CDT
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NEW MADRID, Mo. (KFVS) - A vehicle was pulled from the Mississippi River at the New Madrid boat ramp on Sunday, October 2.

The vehicle sits in the river at the south side of a boat ramp at the New Madrid Riverfront. Low river levels in the Heartland led to the discovery in the Mississippi River over the weekend.

Two people walking along the shore reported seeing the vehicle and alerted police.

In a statement from the New Madrid Police Department, Chief Joey Higgerson said over the course of a couple of hours, crews pulled parts of the the vehicle from the water and sifted the wreckage.

He said they believe it’s a late ‘70s or early ‘80s Ford Sedan. The license plate on the vehicle expired in 1985.

“After several years being in the river, obviously it was very degraded,” Higgerson said. “Probably been ran over by a barge several times over the years. So, there was several big pieces of a car there.”

Though plate numbers are wiped from the system after several years, the Missouri State Highway Patrol is working to identify the license plate.

“I think the most obvious is that it’s a stolen car or possibly related to an insurance fraud. We’ve ran into that several times before,” Higgerson said. “Really, there’s going to be no way to tell. Once we get the registered owner’s information, hopefully we’ll be able to clear all that up.”

Chief Higgerson said this is not the first time there has been something found in the river there. In fact, it’s a common place where police search the area.

“Every few days, we have an officer that is walking the banks, looking for evidence of different crimes,” Higgerson continued. “In the past, we found guns in the riverbank that were related to crimes in neighboring cities where the suspect had came and dumped guns or things like that in the river and they’ve been exposed by low river levels.”

No human remains were found in the vehicle, but the wreckage was marked with caution tape.

In a previous statement, Chief Higgerson said he had hoped the vehicle found on Sunday was the one driven by Barbara Stoffer, who went missing in 2013.

“When we first heard that a car was found in the river, and it was initially reported there were bones found. They were all determined to be animal bones, not human,” Higgerson said. “When we heard that a car was found in the river, obviously we had high hopes it was related to Barbara Stoffer’s disappearance in 2013. There’s still a lot of speculation about where the car is and it could possibly be in the river.”

Chief Higgerson said even though it’s been nine years since her disappearance, it’s still a case that is fresh in their minds and one they still actively search for evidence on.

“At this point, there’s probably nothing that’s a higher priority than Barbara Stoffer’s disappearance,” Higgerson said. “Even though we have new cases coming up all the time, we have to bring them in, get them taken care of, but that one is always at the forefront.”

Citizens are asked to contact police should they notice anything suspicious while the river is down.