Car Pulled From River Linked To Mother And 2 Children Missing Since 2002

By Bill Galluccio

October 15, 2021

Car in the water
Photo: Getty Images

After nearly 20 years, authorities in Indiana have finally closed the case of a mother and her two children who vanished in 2002. Police said that Stephanie Van Nguyen, who was 26 at the time, left a note before she disappeared saying that she planned to drive her car into the Ohio River.

Despite an extensive search of the river, investigators were unable to locate Van Nguyen or her two children Kristina, 4, and John, 3.

Several months ago, officials decided to reopen the cold case and used sonar technology to search the Ohio River. They located three objects in the water and, on Thursday (October 14), pulled out a 1997 Nissan Pathfinder that belonged to Nguyen.

"This has been an investigation that we have worked on for a long time. Two different detectives from Delhi Township have since retired. I've made them aware of the findings, yes. This has been a case we've actively pursued for many years. We did a cold case on it because of the anniversary. Happy for the family, we can give some closure," Delhi Township Lt. Joe Macaluso said.

Macaluso said the vehicle was in "bad" shape after being underwater for 19 years. He told reporters that it was too early to know if Nguyen and her children were in the car.

"Given the fact that it's in the water for that length of time, the likelihood of finding anything is going to be slim, but we're certainly going to try," Macaluso said.

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