For several hours in the driving rain Thursday, state troopers and the Union County sheriff’s deputies slogged through the mud and waded through water in hopes of cracking a decade old cold case: the 2006 disappearance of James Michael Mills.
Mills, who was 37 years old at the time, was last seen at his home in Uniontown when he was reported missing in January 2006. He has not been seen or heard from since. According to online archives, Mills may have been driving his 1994 Plymouth Voyager van, which was spray-painted white with the original blue paint showing through in some places. It’s unclear if Mills’ disappearance was the result of foul play. According to online archives, a funeral service was held for Mills in 2013 but his body has never been found.
It’s also unclear what led authorities to a remote part of the Ohio River bottoms outside of Uniontown early Thursday morning. However, investigators said sonar revealed the signature of submerged vehicle just off of the riverbanks near Mt. Vernon Road.
Upon discovering the submerged vehicle, a state police detective and Union County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Thomas requested assistance from the Henderson County Fire Department’s dive team. Officials from the Union County Emergency Management Agency and Uniontown Volunteer Fire Department were also on scene.
Divers entered the murky and muddy Ohio River around noon and spent close to two hours locating and hooking the submerged vehicle up to a large-sized wrecker from Hazelwood Towing and Recovery. Crews also had to contend with windy, rainy conditions.
Eventually, the wrecker managed to hoist a water-logged, long-forgotten van out of the water as mud and debris rained down. An initial inspection of the dark colored, full-sized van led authorities to believe that it was not the van that Mills may have been driving. However, investigators will trace the VIN number and further inspect the vehicle anyway.
Anyone with information on Mills’ whereabouts is urged to call Kentucky State Police Post 16.
(This story was originally published on Thursday June 22nd, 2017.)