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Human Remains Recovered in Search for Missing Person


UPDATE: Camdenton, MO - 12-25-23 - Saturday morning, 12-23-23, detectives from the Camden County Sheriff's Office and cadaver dogs with Gateway Search Dogs, Inc returned again to the Southern Camden County pond where missing person Donnie Erwin's Hyundai Elantra was recovered on December 16th. The investigators have been searching the pond and the immediate surrounding area since that date. Despite the length of time since Mr. Erwin's disappearance, the cadaver dogs alerted to the presence of human remains in the pond. The dogs concentrated on one area near the center of the pond indicating that was the most likely location of the remains.


On Sunday morning, 12-24-23, at approximately 9:00 a.m. detectives returned to the area again with divers from the Mid County Fire Protection District. Divers searched the area the cadaver dogs indicated and recovered human remains from the pond. In addition to human remains, investigators recovered an artificial hip consistent with the one Mr. Erwin had. While a forensic pathologist will have to examine the remains to determine for certain if they are indeed those of Mr. Erwin, investigators are confident the hip and remains belong to him.


Investigators immediately notified Mr. Erwin's family of the recovery. All of us at the Camden County Sheriff's Office who have investigated this case for ten years are elated at the recovery and overjoyed with the closure we know this brings to the family. This development would not have been possible without the assistance of countless volunteers throughout the years. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you all. 


ORIGINAL: Camdenton, MO - 12-17-23 - Saturday afternoon, 12-16-23, a Camden County Sheriff's Office detective received a phone call from a property owner in Southern Camden County. The property owner described having been contacted by a freelance videographer and drone pilot, James Hinkle, owner/operator of Sounds Like Videos. Mr. Hinkle is working with Beyond the Case and their behavior analyst. Mr. Hinkle informed the property owner he was searching the area of Southern Camden County regarding the missing persons case of Donald L Erwin, who went missing from Camdenton in December of 2013. Mr. Hinkle said he thought he had located a vehicle submerged in a small pond on private property while flying his drone earlier in the week. He arranged with the property owner to search the area on foot and by kayak and found a light-colored submerged passenger car in the pond. Mr. Hinkle has been interested in the Donnie Erwin missing persons case for many years and operates the YouTube channel, Echo Divers.


Deputies and detectives from the Camden County Sheriff's Office as well as members of the Mid-County Fire Protection District Dive Team responded to the area and met with Mr. Hinkle and the property owner. Divers searched the pond and verified the license plate on the submerged vehicle matched the plate on Mr. Erwin's missing Hyundai. With assistance from Bledsoe's Conoco, investigators recovered Mr. Erwin's Hyundai Elantra from the pond and notified his family of the development.


Investigators are still actively working on the case, processing the vehicle for evidence, and searching the pond and surrounding area for any remains of Mr. Erwin. The Camden County Sheriff's Office would like to thank all the law enforcement officers, firefighters, and volunteers who have helped investigate this case over the past ten years.