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20-year missing persons case: Independent dive team finds man’s remains

The family of a man who had been missing for nearly 20 years now may begin to get the answers they have been seeking.

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An independent dive team that had been working on the man’s case for about six months has found the man’s car with his body still inside, KYW reported.

The private diving company found a vehicle at the bottom of Darby Creek in Ridley Township, Pennsylvania, Saturday.

The volunteer divers work with Adventures With Purpose, which is based in Oregon and had been contacted by the man’s family.

The man, whose identity has not officially been released, went missing on Dec. 4, 2003. He had gone to pick up his two children from a babysitter’s house but never arrived, Ridley Township police Capt. James Dougherty told WPVI.

Using sonar, Adventures With Purpose was able to find the green Ford Explorer under the water.

“We met with the family. We put together the clues that they were able to offer us. We also applied that with our search tactics relating to investigations and cases we solved in the past,” Doug Bishop told WPVI. “That is what led us here to search this body of water.”

Once they found the vehicle and the remains, the divers called police who helped pull some of the remains from the vehicle as the man’s family watched dockside.

Stephen Amabile said that the vehicle that was found was that of his brother James Amabile who went missing nearly 20 years ago.

A diver pulled the license plate off the Explorer and handed it to Stephen Amabile.

“It’s my brother,” Stephen Amabile told The Philadelphia Inquirer. “They found him.”

The remains were still in place, locked by the seat belt in the driver’s seat, the newspaper reported.

Stephen Amabile believes his brother, who was diabetic, went into diabetic shock, made a wrong turn and drove into the creek, the Inquirer reported.

“Honestly, I wasn’t expecting anything. I’ve gotten used to not expecting anything, and I tuned a lot of things out,” Amabile told the newspaper. “But it didn’t take them very long to figure out there was an SUV down there.”

The vehicle is still at the bottom of the creek. As time passed after the man’s disappearance, the docks had been replaced and one of the dock’s pilings punctured the hood of the vehicle.

The Delaware County coroner will determine if the remains belong to the missing man, WPVI reported.

“I do believe it brings closure to them, because this is something that we’ve been investigating for a long time, and it wasn’t just the initial missing person, it was following a lot of leads over the years,” Docherty told WPVI.

The Amabile family didn’t pay Adventures With Purpose for the search. Stephen Amabile said they didn’t ask for a payment, the Inquirer reported.

The volunteers with Adventures With Purpose said they provide their services for free and have solved 20 missing persons cold cases since 2019.