Volunteers react after woman, child’s bodies found 23 years after they went missing in Pope County

Local News
January 01 2022 12:00 am

RUSSELLVILLE, Ar. — Pope County Deputies have an update to a cold case. The Pope County Sheriff’s Office said a car matching the description in a 23-year-old missing person’s case has been recovered with human remains inside.

Investigators believe the car found is the same one described in the case of Samantha Hopper. 

After more than two decades of looking for answers and clues, a family is getting some type of closure thanks to a group of strangers. 

“Subscribes, followers, they reach out to us, they let us know about their family members that are missing in cases in their area,” volunteer with adventures with purpose, Douglas Bishop said. 

After receiving word about Samantha Hopper and her disappearance in Russellville, Arkansas, Bishop said he and other volunteers decided to help. 

This case is something that investigator Eric Riggs has been working on for quite some time.

“It’s a 10-year case for me, so this is one of those cases your family knows about, your kids know about and it’s emotional,” Pope County Sheriffs Office Corporal Eric Riggs said. 

Hopper was reported missing on September 11, 1998. She was reported to be on the way to drop off her daughter, Courtney before going to a concert in Little Rock, deputies said they never showed. 

Tuesday, volunteers were able to find a car matching the description of Hopper’s Blue Ford Tempo, with human remains inside in the water near the 3700 Block of Pleasant Valley Road.

“About an hour into our searches, we were successful in finding Samantha and her babies,” Bishop said. 

Hopper was pregnant at the time and her young daughter was also still in the car, investigators said. 

“Honestly, it’s nothing that we’ve done,” Riggs said. “It’s just I think the family just being persistent.”

Douglas Bishop said their non-profit group looks into missing persons and cold cases. He said they used sonar systems to find the car where it was. 

“There’s no true words that can describe how it feels to provide answers for a family that has been tortured for 23-years,” Bishop said. 

The remains are at the Arkansas State Crime Lab for identification. We reached out to the family but did not hear anything back from them.

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