YouTuber’s Search Leads to Discovery of Missing Missouri Veteran’s Remains

The decade-long mystery surrounding the disappearance of a Missouri veteran, Donnie Erwin, has finally been solved, thanks to the efforts of a dedicated YouTuber. Erwin, who disappeared on December 29, 2013, in Camdenton, a city in the Ozarks, was last seen driving a 2002 Hyundai Elantra. His remains, along with an artificial hip, were discovered on Sunday, nearly ten years to the day of his disappearance.

James Hinkle, a YouTuber and drone pilot with over a million subscribers, played a crucial role in the discovery. Hinkle, who runs the popular channel “Echo Divers,” had been conducting his own search for Erwin for almost a year. His efforts paid off on December 14 when he located Erwin’s car in a local lake using freshwater mapping technology.

Scuba divers from Hinkle’s team dove into the water to inspect the algae-covered car, confirming it was the same vehicle Erwin was last seen driving. The Camden County Sheriff’s Office corroborated this when they matched the license plates to Erwin’s. However, it took another week for cadaver dogs to detect human remains in the car.

Investigators also discovered an artificial hip in the car, consistent with the one Erwin had. While a forensic pathologist is yet to confirm the identity of the remains, the sheriff’s office expressed confidence that they belong to Erwin.

Erwin’s sister, Yvonne Erwin-Bowen, expressed her relief and gratitude on social media. She wrote, “Even though you’re not with us, we know where you are now and we can rejoice because of it. I love you brother and I miss you terribly, but I know it was God’s will that brought you to us and I know you are no longer in pain.”

The circumstances leading to Erwin’s disappearance remain unclear. He was reportedly making an early morning cigarette run when he vanished. While suicide was initially considered, Hinkle suggested that Erwin’s death could have been an accident. He pointed out that Erwin had left his glasses at home, which could have impaired his vision in the dark.