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Remains pulled from New Jersey river identified as woman who disappeared 14 years ago

Human remains found in a car submerged in a New Jersey river have been identified as those of a woman who disappeared nearly 14 years ago, according to her family.

Bernadine Waters Gunner was 52 years old when she was last seen alive in Camden, N.J., in July 2010.

A private, nonprofit search organization found her remains Thursday when diving in the Cooper River, which runs through Camden. The group, United Search Corps, announced the discovery Saturday.

Public authorities have not yet confirmed Gunner’s identity, but her family said they knew it was her. The remains were found in a 2006 Hyundai Elantra, which Gunner owned and drove.

“Thanks to Doug (United Search Corps) we have closure,” Gunner’s daughter Julia Young wrote on Facebook. “Our family can now give my mom a proper burial. Thank you EVERYONE for the continuous prayers and support, greatly appreciate it.”

Gunner was last seen alive on July 11, 2010, according to an archived Camden County Sheriff’s Office missing person page. Authorities said she “suffers from depressions and is possibly suicidal.”

There was little progress in her case for more than a decade. On Facebook, Young said “Camden County Police didn’t do a great job with my mother’s case.”

United Search Corps and its founder, Doug Bishop, began searching the Cooper River on May 15. Bishop founded the group last year and told NJ.com he believes many missing people have died in car wrecks that ended in water.

The group used sonar technology to scan the river for submerged vehicles and then Bishop dove in to confirm the findings, according to a press release. The operation took about 45 minutes, and authorities then pulled three vehicles from the Cooper River on Thursday.

One of the vehicles, a blue 2006 Hyundai Elantra, contained Gunner’s remains. The other two vehicles were largely empty. The Elantra’s VIN number also matched Gunner’s vehicle’s VIN number, and several of her personal items were found in the vehicle, Bishop told NJ.com.

The car was found about a mile from Gunner’s last known location, United Search Corps said.

“It took for a one band man to come here and dive into that water and discover my mom,” Young wrote. “We can’t thank him enough for what he has done. Almost 14 years with no answers and now we have them.”


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