The body found in a car submerged in Downs Marina along the Missouri River in Pierre on Tuesday, June 11, has been identified as Corrine Faye White Thunder, who was 30 and last seen in Pierre in early December, 2017, said Police Capt. Bryan Walz, who sent out a news release late Thursday morning naming the victim.
A car with a body inside was pulled out of eight to 12 feet of water Tuesday, June 11, just inside the exit of the Marina into the Missouri River. The west end of the Marina is next to Griffin Park, not far from Avera St. Mary’s Hospital.
The body was found inside the mid-sized passenger sedan, not in the car’s trunk, Walz told the Capital Journal on Thursday.
The car and the body appeared to have been there 18 months to two years, based on the conditions, including the “silting in” of the car, Walz told the Capital Journal on Wednesday.
The body was taken to Sioux Falls on Tuesday for an autopsy. No other information was released by about noon Thursday about the condition of her body in what is an ongoing investigation.
White Thunder was not reported as a missing person to the police department nor listed in the National Crime Information Center as a missing person, according to Walz. Anyone with information should call the police Tip Line at 605-773-7420, he said.
According to an apparently recent posting on the website “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women,” out of Portland, Ore.: “Corrine Faye White Thunder was 30 years old when she was last seen in Pierre, South Dakota on December 8th, 2017. She is originally from Rosebud, South Dakota. She was staying a hotel in Pierre, for which she had paid for a week’s long stay. The night of December 8th, she went out with friends and never returned. Her bags remained in the hotel room and she has not been seen since. Her children and partner remained in the Pierre area where she was at. If you have any information please inbox us. Her family desperately misses her and wants her home.”
The car was noticed by a boater at the exit/entrance of the marina where it connects with the river, on the inside lip of the exit on the west end of the marina, Walz said. The boater, going over the site, noticed something on his monitor screen from the side-scan sonar on his boat, used normally to locate fish and see the structure of the river bottom.
“He contacted (state) Game, Fish and Parks,” Walz said.
The state GF&P officials confirmed it appeared to be a car down at the bottom in the marina. The Pierre Fire Department’s rescue and dive team went down, hooked on to the car and pulled it out. A person’s body was found inside, Walz said.
It was apparent the car and body had been there awhile, Walz told the Capital Journal on Wednesday. “We’re saying within the last 18 months to two years.”
He said there’s no missing person case that comes to mind to fit that scenario. “That’s part of our investigation, trying to determine that,” he said. “We have to get a positive identification (in order to find out) what happened.”
It’s possible to drive a vehicle into the Marina from the west end of the Marina — adjacent to Griffin Park — near where the car was found, he said.
What might seem less possible is a vehicle being down there so long without being noticed, Walz acknowledged.
The depth of the water at that site in the marina might surprise people, Walz said. “It’s eight to 12 feet.”
He described the car as being “wedged in, silted in.”
Side-scan sonar units are attached to boats on the outside to emit sonar signals down and out in the water to provide graphic images on display monitors of the underwater conditions, structures of the river, lake or sea bottom and of fish themselves.
A state website with information about a handful of missing persons who have been gone several years didn’t include information about White Thunder.