OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (Nov. 11, 2021) – Human remains have been located inside the vehicle, which is connected to a missing persons case from 2005, that was pulled from Melton Hill Lake Wednesday night.
At this time, Oak Ridge Police Department investigators and the Medical Examiner’s Office are working together to process the vehicle. The Medical Examiner’s Office is also working to identify the remains. It’s unclear how long it will take to identify them.
The vehicle belonged to Miriam Ruth Hemphill who was reported missing in Oak Ridge in July 2005. As previously stated, it is still unclear whether the remains discovered in the vehicle are Hemphill’s.
Members from the Blount Special Operations Response Team (BSORT), which includes members from the Blount County Sheriff’s Office, Blount County Rescue Squad, Maryville Police Department, and the Alcoa Fire Department, assisted ORPD in the recovery of the vehicle after ORPD received a tip from private divers about the vehicle Wednesday afternoon. The vehicle was pulled out of the water shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday.
The Oak Ridge Fire Department also helped investigators with the processing and deconstruction of the vehicle Thursday morning as crews sorted through the silt and mud that had accumulated over the years it was under water.
Anyone with information that may help investigators is asked to call ORPD at (865) 425-4399. Crime tips can also be submitted online at http://oakridgetn.gov/department/ORPD/Home. Information can be given anonymously.