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Search for missing Chester teacher, her son likely at an end

 

BY VALERIE REDDELL
Editor
polknews@gmail.com

LIVINGSTON — The search for retired Chester schoolteacher Lettie Fisher and her son John Fisher Jr. appears to be at an end after a hunter found human skeletal remains, a prosthetic leg and fishing equipment Sunday in the location near Lake Steinhagen in the Dam B community where the Fishers' vehicle was recovered Sept. 22, 2011, according to Tyler County Sheriff Bryan Weatherford. "There has been no DNA identification to confirm that these are the same individuals who went missing, and we are only assuming that it is them at this point. They were found near the location from where they are believed to be missing," Weatherford said. "They were found on land in a very thick, brushy area." No foul play is suspected, Weatherford added. "These bodies were located in a place that would require a person to literally be right on top of them to be found," Weatherford said. "The man that found the remains is an avid deer hunter and was out with his two dogs looking for shed antlers. The dogs happened to get away from him, and when he went to retrieve them he found the bodies." When the hunter called for assistance, the Tyler County Sheriff's Office sent an investigative team that included sheriff's deputies, Texas Rangers, dive team members from the Texas Department of Public Safety and Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Wardens from Tyler and Jasper County. The team traveled by airboat to the edge of Dam-B Lake and went in on foot carrying necessary equipment to the reported location and collected 36 pieces of evidence. Positive identification of the human remains is forthcoming through DNA testing and the forensic process, according to a statement from the Tyler County Sheriff's Office. "If DNA evidence confirms that this is in fact Lettie and John Fisher Jr., we will be able to give a more in-depth analysis of the case." Family members seemed to concur with law enforcement officials' assumption that the bodies were the missing mother and son, but as of press time chose to begin the grieving process in private. Lettie and John Fisher were married for 42 years and Mr. Fisher made numerous public appeals for assistance with search efforts to find his wife and son. The search for the Fishers was launched on Friday, Sept. 23, 2011, when a park ranger noticed Lettie Fisher's gray Toyota 4Runner had not moved from its parking spot since the previous Monday. The Fishers belongings were still in the vehicle, including Mrs. Fisher's purse. Mrs. Fisher and her 32-year-old disabled son loved to fish and they would frequently combine fishing expeditions at Dam-B with fun in Lake Charles, La. and visit family members who live in the area. Search efforts for the two included a ground search by Tyler County's Search and Rescue team, the National Parks Service, an extensive three-day search by Texas EquuSearch and canine searches from the Winn Units and Gibb Lewis Unit of TDCJ. Dive teams with underwater cameras conducted several searches of the waterways in the area as well as boats with side-scan radars searched where possible. Since the Fisher family lives just inside the Polk County line, the Polk County Sheriff's Office followed up the initial search with a massive search party that began at the family's residence and took a caravan of detectives along Hwy. 287 from Chester to the Woodville city limits. They used horses, four-wheelers and canines to explore under bridges and in other inaccessible areas between the residence and the City of Woodville back in November 2011. At the time the Fishers went missing Texas was suffering a record-setting drought, which had prompted the Fishers to seek out new fishing holes. Investigators learned that the pair had visited Memorial Hospital in Lufkin for a doctor visit Monday, Sept. 22, 2011, and they were seen leaving the facility on security video. They were also seen on security video at a Corrigan convenience store on that Monday morning. The clothes they were wearing in those videos were found at their home. They collected fishing gear and headed out on their fishing expedition. Their vehicle is seen on video obtained from the Exxon store at Dam-B, but investigators had been unable to turn up any other sign of the Fishers until Sunday. — with files from Emily Waldrop, Tyler County Booster.

 

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