Authorities awaiting DNA analysis of remains believed to be Tyler Co. woman, son

TYLER COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A Texas Ranger and deputies from the Tyler County Sheriff's Office will be transporting the human remains believed to be that of Lettie and John Fisher Jr. to the University of North Texas Thursday for autopsies and DNA analysis.

The skeletal remains were found near Lake Steinhagen in the Dam-B community of Tyler County on March 31. Lettie and John Fisher have been missing since September 2011.

Tyler County Chief Deputy Phil Ryan said that there is no real timeframe on when they can expect to get the results from the DNA analysis authorities hope will positively identify the remains as Lettie and John Fisher and give their family members some closure.

In a previous story, Ryan said no foul play is suspected at this time. However, authorities believe that Lettie and John Fisher did not drown in the lake, and the exact cause of death is still not known at this time.

On March 31, a man told authorities that he had found human remains in the Steinhagen area. After local game wardens confirmed the man's report, an investigative team composed of Tyler County Sheriff's Office deputies, Texas Rangers, DPS Dive Team members, and Texas Parks and Wildlife game wardens from Tyler and Jasper counties traveled by air boat to the edge of Dam-B. Then they went on foot with equipment they needed to process the scene.

When the team processed the scene, they found human skeletal remains, fishing equipment, and a prosthetic leg. In all, 36 items of evidence were collected at the scene. Ryan said the skeletal remains were found in two separate locations.

Lettie Fisher, 79, and John Fisher Jr., 31, were last seen in Lufkin around 12 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011 when they went to a doctor's appointment, according to Lt. Craig Finegan of the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

Initially, investigators thought Lettie Fisher and her son went to Magnolia Ridge Park in the Steinhagen Lake area to fish that Monday. In September 2012, authorities said they knew the Fishers went home to change clothes before they went fishing at the park.

They were reported missing the following Thursday after a park officer noticed their vehicle had been parked in the same spot for days. Lettie Fisher's money and purse were still in the car, according to authorities. No foul play was suspected at first.

Less than a week after they were reported missing, then-Trinity County Sheriff David Hennigan said, "We're looking at possible criminal activity now."

In September 2011, John Fisher, Lettie Fisher's husband, told the East Texas News that his son is mentally handicapped and has a prosthetic leg. He also said that his wife and his son often went fishing together.

Right after the pair was reported missing, authorities searched the area around Magnolia Ridge Park with cadaver and scent dogs, a dive team, underwater cameras, and a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter. However, the search proved to be fruitless.

"None of the fishing equipment was located after multiple searches in the creek and park area of Magnolia Ridge, which is highly unusual," A.R. Bud Sturrock, the Chief Investigator for the Tyler County Sheriff's Office said in September 2012.

Last fall, Sturrock said they had reported sightings of Lettie and John Fisher Jr. in Lufkin, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Missouri. Authorities continued to follow up on leads.

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