On November 20, 1970, friends say Jimmy Williams, Leah Johnson, and Thomas Rios were supposed to be attending an Elk City football game. But, they didn't show up. 43 years later, the community hopes this tragic story has finally come to an end.
"I will say this, I don't believe those kids went into the water accidentally," says Dayva Spitzer, co-publisher and editor of the Sayre Record and Beckham County Democrat. She says everyone in town has their own theory about what happened to Leah, Thomas and Jimmy, but hers is that foul play was involved. "Leah was an Indian Princess and was a very good athlete, and could swim very well. And, the other two boys were really robust kids. They could have easily unrolled the windows and been able to get out," says Spitzer.
Andy Taylor says he was a childhood friend of Jimmy's. He says he played football with him and describes Jimmy as "happy go lucky." Andy says he expected the teens would return. "Could have just been a couple of teenagers who had a wild streak and left town for the weekend or something," says Andy. But, he quickly realized that wasn't the case.
Jimmy's parents posted a reward, but the case ran cold. "They didn't have any leads to go on," says Chief Ronnie Harrold, of the Sayre Police Department.
Jimmy had just bought a brand new car. "1969, bright blue Camaro. White vinyl top... It was the car every boy wanted to have," says Spitzer. But, Jimmy only had it for six days, when he told his friends and family he was going to a football game in Elk City with some friends. "It was a play-off game, and he had a friend that he wanted to go watch. Never showed up..." says Spitzer. Some think he may have changed his mind. "He was a big turkey hunter and it would have been around that time of year that he could have been shooting," says Spitzer.
"In the minds of a lot of Sayre people, it's never really left. It might not be at the forefront, but it's just kind of one of those things that's always there," says Taylor. He says, if the recent remains prove to be Jimmy's, it will be bittersweet for the family. "It's good to know that for 43 years, he's been with The Lord," says Taylor.
"It's really fresh again for them, and they're mourning again," says Spitzer, who says the family isn't ready to speak about it yet.
The community waits for the DNA results, hoping this tragic story will have an end. "Hope the families can get some sort of closure in this incident," says Chief Harrold.
"There are more questions to this story than there are answers," says Spitzer, mentioning that only one article has ever been published in the local paper, because the Sheriff's office never had any leads.