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UPDATED: Wyandotte Firefighters Retrieve Car, Headless Body Out of Detroit River

The vehicle -- and the body -- had been in the water for years.

A vehicle, with a badly decomposed body inside, was pulled from the Detroit River on Thursday. Wyandotte firefighters said the car has been in the water for years. Photo Credit: Nate Stemen
A vehicle, with a badly decomposed body inside, was pulled from the Detroit River on Thursday. Wyandotte firefighters said the car has been in the water for years. Photo Credit: Nate Stemen
A headless, decomposed body was pulled Thursday from a vehicle that had been submerged in the Detroit River for years.

Wyandotte Fire Chief Jeff Carley said the Downriver Underwater Search and Recovery team began working at about 1 p.m. to pull the Mercury Sable out of the river near BASF Waterfront Park. Within hours, both it and the body had been recovered.


The body is badly decomposed, but officials believe it to be a man, Police Chief Daniel Grant said. The body is missing some parts, including a head, but that's likely due to decomposition, Grant said.

"Some of those parts fell off right in front of us," he said. (Watch the chief's full interview.)

The vehicle was last registered in 2004, causing officials to believe that it could have been in the water for at least nine years.

The license plate on the vehicle matches that of a black Mercury Sable driven by a 30-year-old Lincoln Park man who hasn't been seen or heard from since being reported missing on Dec. 30, 2003.

Barbara Wylie, 34, of Riverview, was walking in the park with her family and witnessed the car being pulled from the river. She said authorities gained access to the car by busting out a side window.

Grant said the car likely went into the river less than 100 yards of the location where it was recovered due to river conditions including the strength of the current and the depth of the river.

He added divers would likely return to the location Friday for further investigation.

Earlier reports that officials knew the vehicle had been underwater for years are not accurate. They weren't aware of it until Thursday when a scuba diver discovered it in about 25 feet of water, Grant said.

More information will be posted as it becomes available.

(Patch Community Editor Jason Alley contributed to this story.)

Dana Leffew-Bantau August 15, 2013 at 05:35 PM
Wow!!! Seems very stange they wouldnt have pulled the car out of the water years ago if they knew it was there. Maybe the person in the vehicle wasn't deceased and needed help getting out. Why would they not send divers down to check years ago??? Sounds fishy to me.
KaJo Lyell August 15, 2013 at 05:56 PM
I agree Dana... Something is not right about this...
Jerry Barton August 15, 2013 at 06:20 PM
A recreational diver found it just a few days ago. The dive team was doing training and they offered to investigate. From what I've found on the internet I'm going to guess that this is Thomas Lange who disappeared back in Dec 2003. He was last seen leaving work at Tulio's in AP. His car was a black 1999 Mercury Sable (same make and model found in the river according to Ch4 interview with WPD) and it's plates expired in 2004.
Jerry Barton August 15, 2013 at 06:21 PM
Here's the missing persons page. http://www.nampn.org/cases/lange_tom.html
Jerry Barton August 15, 2013 at 06:23 PM
And to answer your question, the diver brought the license plate up and gave them to the police. They knew it had been there a long time because of the amount of muck/silt on it.
James Farmer August 15, 2013 at 08:03 PM
https://www.findthemissing.org/en/cases/13893/0/
Just Sayin! August 16, 2013 at 08:00 AM
The police never knew it was there!.. I knew this man, he was an aquaintance, we had friends in common. they put out an extensive search 10 years ago. He was a great guy. this is very sad to have an ending like this, but hopefully the family will have their closure..
John Chase August 16, 2013 at 02:30 PM
The license plate on the vehicle matches that of a black Mercury Sable driven by a 30-year-old Lincoln Park man who hasn't been seen or heard from since being reported missing on Dec. 30, 2003. The vehicle was last registered in 2004, causing officials to believe that it could have been in the water for at least nine years. so if missing since Dec 2003 how was it REGISTERED IN 2004?
Rhonda Gutierrez August 16, 2013 at 02:49 PM
The fact that they are giving such gruesome details regarding the body and its parts is quite disturbing. If I were a family member, I would be very upset. Some things are better left unsaid. God bless him and his family.
Carl Spackler August 16, 2013 at 05:31 PM
Something does not smell right about this story. Why was the car parked in the river? It smells funny to me.
M. P. August 16, 2013 at 07:40 PM
Carl- either a stupid comment, or you are. Rhonda- Then DON'T READ IT. If they didn't give details, a lot of people would cry about a "cover-up" or some such.
Josephine Rockwell August 17, 2013 at 09:40 AM
Okay topless car?....Police broke side window to gain access....???? and ???? am I mis-reading something???or are the police just stupid
Laura Wallace Garcia August 17, 2013 at 01:32 PM
They likely broke the window to first gain access but the picture shows the top up against a tree. Probably easier to further investigate with the top off.
Squeek August 17, 2013 at 04:42 PM
"Headless Body Found in Topless Car" THAT is the headline I clicked on....sooooo want to explain that if the car was TOPLESS, why they had to smash out a window to get inside of it??? (Idiot editors)
william savick August 17, 2013 at 07:50 PM
"Some of those parts fell off right in front of us". Do I hear improper forensic investigation at the scene? ... See the Jerry Barton comment, He should have conducted the investigation .
Carl Spackler August 17, 2013 at 08:34 PM
Do you think the man fell asleep and then his car rolled into the river? He hasn't renewed his plates for about 7 years now? Something doesn't smell right here. If he was in the river that long it makes sense the body just disintegrated when it was exposed to air. I think I heard about this on Steve and Garry's show.
nikkief19 December 11, 2013 at 02:16 AM
no he didn't fall asleep, his babys mama had him killed. Lincoln park PD is just stupid.

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