A 28-year-old cold missing persons case out of Natchitoches Parish is now presumed solved, deputies say, after the remains and vehicle of a woman reported missing in 1993 were reportedly found in the Cane River Monday.
According to Sheriff Stuart Wright, 40-year-old Kara E. Vaugh of Natchitoches was reported missing on November 3, 1993. Family members reported that Kara was a diabetic and had left home in a white Honda Civic without her medication and less than $10 in cash.
Vaugh never returned home; her family said she was upset when she left that evening and had previously stated she would, "drive her vehicle in Cane River and never be found," sheriff Wright said.
Deputies investigated Vaugh's disappearance: DNA profiles were sent to LSU FACES in Baton Rouge, missing persons reports were issued, and the sheriff's office searched the river multiple times. However, Wright added, deputies were unable to develop any leads in the case.
In 2007, deputies with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office again searched the river with new sonar equipment, but the search provided no new clues and the case remained open.
Then, in February 2021, a fisherman spotted a possible vehicle submerged in the river. Deputies had to wait for weather conditions to improve, and NPSO dive team members entered the river near the location on Friday, March 12. They located what they believed to be a small vehicle submerged in 10-12 feet of water.
On Monday, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's Office divers traveled to Natchitoches to assist in the recovery, and found what appeared to be a Honda Civic submerged and all its windows rolled up, Wright added.
Divers located human remains inside the vehicle, along with an identification card, documents, and a photograph of Kara Vaugh that all were still legible.
The remains were extracted from the vehicle and will be brought to the LSU FACES lab for dental record and DNA comparison for a positive identification, Wright said. The vehicle was removed from the river and brought to an undisclosed location for evidence.
Sheriff Wright said Vaugh's mother passed away in 2012.
"Unfortunately the outcome did not come out as we expected for Kara but at least the family has some closure now," the sheriff stated.
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