WACO, Texas – The Waco Police Department with the help of the Waco Fire Dive Team, recovered a vehicle after Adventures with Purpose began a separate search for a Waco PD missing persons case from December of 2017.
Waco Police Department investigators have positively confirmed the VIN number of the recovered vehicle as missing 43-year-old Stephanie Torres’ vehicle.
Non profit search team from Oregon, Adventure with Purpose, arrived to Brazos Lake East around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday morning. They searched for a car they believed to belong to Stephanie Torres, Waco woman who went missing December 2017.
“We were able to meet with her daughter this morning before we started our search. We went over the, you know, the her last known whereabouts. We also knew that her vehicle did not leave the Waco area,” says Adventures with Purpose lead diver, Doug Bishop.
Torres was last seen leaving her residence in the 700 block of Rusk in east Waco, driving a bluish- gray 2006 Kia Rio. In the initial search for Ms. Torres, it was reported to officers that she may have been intoxicated and suicidal when she disappeared. A search began for Ms. Torres, however every lead came up empty. The case was later suspended in February 2019, pending no additional evidence.
“We’re divers as well, so we’re able to dove on vehicles when we do find them or targets to rule them out as being vehicles or not. Once we do that and we find the vehicle that we’re looking for. We then reach out to law enforcement because it is then a crime scene,” says Bishop.
Bishop says the Brazos River has a depth of about 13 feet, that’s how divers were able to quickly find three cars.
“We were on the water for about 25, 30 minutes before we located what was three targets here of right off the edge of this boat ramp,” says Bishop.
Lead diver Doug Bishop shares how they were able to target a location for this rescue.
“She was here, she also did not have her cell phone. She did not have financial resources, so it gave us a good idea of where to begin our search, which it was spot on this morning,” says Bishop.
In the search, divers dove in the lake and identified a car that matches the description of Stephanie Torres’ car.
“Once the vehicle was recovered, our crime scene techs did find a small bone fragment. We’re not sure if that bone fragment is connected to our missing person,” says Waco police department’s spokesperson, Cierra Shipley.
A body was also recovered from the car and due to the current state of the body, investigators are not able to positively identify if the body found is Torres’. Judge Lee was called to the scene and Torres’ family has been notified. Waco PD investigators hope to know more after an autopsy is complete. The bone fragment and the vehicle are now being processed for evidence.
It was a heart breaking day for the Torres family as they were on the scene as they recovered the car. Police say it is not known if the car belongs to Torres. When the car was recovered out of the water, the license plate was missing. However, the non profit says it’s her car.
“Unfortunately, but fortunately for the family, this is the answers that they need, because when you lose someone and you don’t have any answers and you don’t know anything, that’s that’s pretty rough and not knowing,” says Bishop.
As for the other two cars still in the lake. Waco Police Department says “due to daylight, the Waco Fire Dive team was only able to recover one vehicle and the other two will be recovered at a later date.”
This investigation continues and we will provide updates as more becomes available.