The discovery Thursday evening of a vehicle submerged in the waters of Lake Tawakoni helped provide additional clues in the disappearance of a Quinlan woman 30 years earlier.
The Hunt County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement Friday morning, confirming the car belonged to Carey Mae Parker, who vanished in 1991.
“I would like to thank the family of Carey Mae Parker for having the persistence and drive to keep pushing forward to find answers in the disappearance of their family member,” said Sheriff Terry Jones. “It was a privilege for the sheriff’s office to be able to work with the family and Adventures with Purpose to come one step closer to bringing closure to this case, which has been needed for many years.”
The sheriff’s office received a call at 5:43 p.m. Thursday from a search and recovery team advising they had located a vehicle in Lake Tawakoni near the causeway on FM 751. The search and recovery team was using sonar equipment when they discovered a vehicle in the lake and advised investigators the vehicle was similar to one involved in Parker’s missing person’s case.
FM 751 was closed as the vehicle was recovered from the water and it was confirmed the vehicle matched the description of the one belonging to Carey Mae Parker, who has been missing since 1991.
The discovery of the vehicle was brought about by Adventures with Purpose, a search and recovery team based out of Bend, Oregon.
Jones said the investigators with the sheriff’s office will be processing the vehicle to determine what evidence may be recovered from the vehicle.
Multiple searches have been conducted for Parker across southern Hunt County, including at least three in 2019.
An all-day search was conducted May 23, 2019, as deputies with the Hunt County Sheriff’s Office joined with the Mark 9 K-9 unit for an inspection of the 900 block of State Highway 276 for evidence. The search included two businesses as well as several personal properties in the area.
Sheriff’s officials said at the time they had written consent to proceed with the search on all of the properties.
A search was conducted in February 2019 on private property in the Waco Bay subdivision, where a search was also conducted on Jan. 19, 2019, although nothing of evidentiary value was reported found.
Parker was last seen in March 1991, when she was 23. At the time, Parker was working night shifts at an air-conditioning company in Terrell.
According to Patricia Gager, Parker’s sister, their father said at the time that he’d contacted a friend in local law enforcement who was supposed to have filed a missing person report.
But in 2010, after checking with the sheriff’s office, Gager discovered the department had no missing persons record on file for Parker, so one was opened – 19 years after the date she was last seen.
The properties searched in January and February 2019 covered a 100-acre grid that also included the old Parker home.
Gager issued a statement on Facebook, noting Thursday’s search had been kept confidential due in part to the family’s past history with the sheriff’s office concerning the investigation.
“It is with my deepest sadness (but peaceful heart) that today we did find Carey's car off the 751 causeway where it has rested upside down in 15 ft of water for 30 years,” Gager said. “Tonight, they were only able to retrieve half of Carey's car due to its deteriorated condition. At this time no remains were found, but honestly, I don't anticipate there to be much if any. I am really emotionally spent, but I will have more to say in coming days. Just know that I couldn't have done it without my beautiful small circle. I love each one of you.”
According to the statement from the sheriff’s office, Adventures with Purpose’s specialty is underwater vehicle search and recovery, but at times, they find lost loved ones underwater and bring them home to their families providing the answers they've been seeking.
“They go around to various locations,” Jones said, adding the company was contacted by Parker’s family members. “There is no charge.“
Jones said the company’s adventures can be seen on their YouTube channel, where they have close to a million subscribers. Adventures with Purpose services are made possible by sponsors and donations that can be made by PayPal or Venmo via their YouTube channel. Adventures with Purpose not only located the vehicle, but also assisted the sheriff’s office with a diver to help recover the vehicle.