Remains of woman, 63, who disappeared in 1978 are discovered in car submerged in river

Remains of woman, 63, who disappeared in 1978 are discovered in car submerged in river

The family of a New Hampshire woman who went missing in 1978 may finally be getting some answers, after divers discovered human remains in a submerged car on Friday.

The car, half-buried at the bottom of the Connecticut River, is a 1972 Pontiac LeMans with a license plate 'OB610' found nearby - the exact plate registered to Alberta Leeman, who vanished over 43 years ago.

It was found Friday submerged in the river, just about one mile south of the Mt. Orne Covered Bridge, which connects Lancaster, New Hampshire with Lunenburg, Vermont.

It had apparently been underwater for decades when it was found by New Hampshire Fish and Game officials using specialized equipment, New Hampshire State Police posted on Facebook Friday afternoon.

Authorities have not yet positively identified the remains as those of Leeman, who was 63 when she went missing on July 25, 1978, according to WMUR.

New Hampshire State Police posted on Friday afternoon that New Hampshire Fish and Game crews found a car submerged in the Connecticut River that matches the one that belonged to Leeman at the time of her disappearance.

But police have said her disappearance is not considered suspicious and there does not appear to be any threat to the public, as the New Hampshire Fish and Game dive team continue to search the area surrounding the vehicle.

New Hampshire and Vermont state police are now investigating how the car ended up in the water, they said.

The dive teams used sonar and an underwater camera to find the vehicle

The discovery came just about three years after Conservation Officer Joe Canfield found out about Leeman's disappearance and made it his mission to solve the case.

He has since undertaken regular search missions in the Androscoggin and Connecticut Rivers along areas close to the roadway.

On Wednesday, the dive team was once again at the site, and they were able to confirm the submerged vehicle was Leeman's.

'He's taken time, along with other team members on the sonar team and they've taken their training days to come up here and search portions of the river,' Lt. Robert Mancini, of the New Hampshire Fish and Game department told reporters of Canfield's efforts.

It was located just about one mile south of the Mt. Orne Covered Bridge in the Connecticut River in New Hampshire.

'And last week they came with that sonar and underwater camera, and they were working on this, and they had a hit on the sonar.'

Mancini described the efforts as 'training with a purpose,' and added that the 'grit and resiliency that Officer Canfield and his team have shown in respect to this case is really incredible.'

Authorities now believe she was heading home from Gilman, Vermont on the day she went missing, according to WMUR.

By Thursday, Leeman's family received a call that a vehicle registered to Leeman was found by a Fish and Game remote-operated vehicle with an underwater camera and sonar team during training

The family had spent 43 years looking for closure- following up on any possible sightings and reports of human remains found elsewhere, only to learn they weren't related to Leeman's disappearance.

'You never give up,' her daughter, Nancy McLain told the New Hampshire Union Leader.

She and her daughter, Roxanne McLain were living in Gilman, Vermont, just a few miles from the site of the submerged car at the time, the Union Leader reports, while Leeman was living 40 miles away in Gorham, New Hampshire.

'We never thought she was here,' said Roxanne, who was just 16 when Leeman went missing. 'They had looked in Maine, they were getting sightings in New Hampshire.

'The sightings were terrible at the time,' she said. 'They spotted her everywhere.'

They had thought her disappearance was suspicious at the time, as her purse was left at home along with a cup of coffee on the table.

'Your mind goes that way anyway,' Roxanne said, adding that authorities were also suspicious of Leeman's disappearance.

'She could have been taken,' Roxanne said, 'Everything was left at home, except for herself and her car.'

Authorities even checked Leeman's other granddaughter's home in Florida to make sure she wasn't hiding her.

'This was the hardest part for me,' the granddaughter, Stacey Carri, said.

If the remains are positively identified as that of Leeman's, Nancy said, the family will no longer have to worry about what happened to her, saying: 'She's at peace.'