After nearly 28-years, the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office and Natchitoches Parish Coroner’s Office may finally give peace and closure to the family of Kara E. Vaughn according to Natchitoches Parish Sheriff Stuart Wright.
On Wednesday March 24, 2021, the Natchitoches Parish Coroner’s Office contacted the NPSO reporting the LSU Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services Lab in Baton Rouge has confirmed the remains recovered from a vehicle submerged in Cane River on March 15 are that of Kara E. Vaughn of Natchitoches, La.
On November 3, 1993, 40-year-old Kara E. Vaughn of Natchitoches was reported missing to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Family members reported Kara, a diabetic, left their Point Place home between 8:00 and 9:00pm during the evening of November 3, 1993 in a white 1978 Honda Civic without her medication and less than $10 dollars in cash.
Kara never returned home leaving her family concerned. She left home that evening upset and previously stated “she would drive her vehicle in Cane River and never be found.”
Natchitoches Sheriff’s detectives began an investigation into Kara’s disappearance interviewing her family and several close friends back in 1993 according to a large investigative case file but were unable to develop any leads of her whereabouts.
Some friends believed that she may have traveled to California.
Detectives entered Kara and her vehicle into the National Crime Information Center as a missing person.
DNA Profiles were collected from family members and provided to the LSU FACES Lab in Baton Rouge which also manages the Louisiana Repository for Unidentified and Missing Persons Information Project.
Detectives continued the investigation attempting to gather information.
Missing Person reports were issued to law enforcement and media outlets for assistance.
Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies searched Cane River multiple times but were unable to find or identify any signs of the vehicle being in Cane River, then in 2007, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office offered assistance with new special sonar equipment to search the river for any clues.
The search again provided no clues.
Almost 28-years later, in February 2021, NPSO deputies were notified by Ben Abraham of the Northwestern State University Fishing Team and his friend Zack Gagnard that while fishing they observed a possible vehicle on their fish finder submerged in Cane River, approximately 1.2 miles north of the Shell Beach Bridge or close to the 1300 block of Bermuda Road.
NPSO dive team members waited for weather conditions to improve.
On Friday March 12, NPSO dive members entered Cane River near the provided point of location.
Divers located what they believed to be a small vehicle submerged in approximately 10-12 feet of water.
Major Doug Rachal contacted Lt. Ron Johnson with the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit and Dive Team to assist in the examination and recovery of the submerged vehicle.
On Monday morning March 15, Calcasieu Sheriff’s Divers traveled to Natchitoches to assist in the vehicle recovery.
Divers entered the water at approximately 10am, finding what appeared to be a Honda Civic with all windows rolled up submerged.
Divers made entry discovering human skeleton remains inside the vehicle.
A laminated identification card and photograph of Kara Vaughn and other documents were found inside the vehicle in surprisingly legible condition.
Divers then began the process of methodically extracting the remains from the vehicle with dignity bringing them to shore for evidence collection.
The Natchitoches Parish Coroner’s Office responded to the scene.
The remains presumed to be that of Kara E. Vaughn, where transported by NPSO Detectives to the LSU FACES Lab in Baton Rouge for dental record and DNA comparison for a positive identification.
The process then shifted to extracting the vehicle from the water.
Calcasieu deputies equipped with special flotation bags placed the bags under the vehicle, then inflated them to raise it to the surface.
Deputies were concerned with the condition of the vehicle therefore flotation devices were used to safely remove it for evidence.
Deputies were then able to tow the flotation bags and vehicle to a boat ramp approximately a quarter mile south of the scene to remove the vehicle and transport it to an undisclosed location for evidence.
Sheriff Stuart Wright spoke with former CNN Headline News Anchor Lyn Vaughn (the sister of Kara Vaughn) that morning and extended his condolences to the Vaughn family.
“Unfortunately the outcome did not come out as we expected for Kara but at least the family has some peace and closure now” said Sheriff Wright.
Kara’s mother passed away back in 2012.
Major Doug Rachal, said sonar equipment technology equipment is rapidly changing and improving from day to day.
Sheriff Wright thanked Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso, Lt. Ron Johnson, the CPSO Dive Team, NPSO Dive Team and all that took part and assisted in the recovery operation.
We thank NSU fishing team member Ben Abraham and his friend Zach Gagnard that saw something suspicious and said something to the Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Office that led the recovery of Kara Vaughn and closure of a 28 year cold missing persons case in Natchitoches Parish.
Members of the Cane River Waterway Commission were also on scene.
LSU F.A.C.E.S Lab confirms Kara was identified through dental records comparison.
Upon completion of the examination, the remains will be released to the family for proper burial according to Natchitoches Parish Asst. Coroner Steven Clanton.
We extend our condolences to the Vaughn family.