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May 21, 2024

Body in car pulled from Cooper River identified as woman missing since 2010, diver says

Bernadine Gunner was found in one of three vehicles removed from the water last week, according to a private investigator.

Investigations Missing People
Bernadine Gunner River Courtesy/Camden County Police Department

Bernadine Gunner was 52 when she disappeared in 2010 and had last been seen in Camden. Her remains were found inside a car that was pulled from the Cooper River in Pennsauken on Thursday, according to a diver who made the discovery.

The remains that were found inside a car removed from the Cooper River last week belong to a woman who had last been seen in 2010, according to family members and a nonprofit that searches for missing people.

Three cars were pulled from the river in Pennsauken on Thursday, one day after an independent investigator from United Search Corps detected the vehicles in the water using a sonar device. When the diver inspected the cars, he found a body on the driver's side of a submerged Hyundai Elantra.

"I was the diver, the moment that I saw it was a Hyundai Elantra I pretty much knew that it was going to be the vehicle that we were looking for," Doug Bishop, the founder of the nonprofit, told NBC News. "I was able to identify her remains within the vehicle. We pretty much knew who we had."

Camden County prosecutors and search crews went to the scene Thursday afternoon in an area south of Kaighn Avenue, near Cooper River Park, and removed the cars from the water.

Bishop said the remains belong to Bernadine Gunner, who was 52 when she had last been seen in Camden on July 7, 2010, according to a bulletin from the Camden County Police Department. At the time of Gunner's disappearance, investigators said she had told her family she was going to take her life because she couldn't find a job. Her car was last seen on the 1300 block of Park Boulevard in Camden, less than a mile from where her car was found in the river last week.

Julia Young, one of Gunner's children, thanked Bishop and United Search Corps in a Facebook post over the weekend. She was critical of the police investigation and the lack of answers for her mother's disappearance over the years.

"Thanks to Doug (United Search Corps) we have closure our family can now give my mom a proper burial. Thank you EVERYONE for the continuous prayers and support greatly appreciate it. As you already know Camden County Police didn’t do a great job with my mothers case it took for a one band man to come here and dive into that water and discover my mom. We can’t thank him enough for what he has done."

Thanks to Doug( United Search Corps) we have closure our family can now give my mom a proper burial. Thank you EVERYONE...

Posted by Julia Young on Saturday, May 18, 2024

The Camden County Prosecutor's Office said last week it would confirm the identity of the remains using DNA testing. The prosecutor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

Authorities are still investigating how Gunner's car may have ended up in the river. Investigators haven't said whether the other vehicles pulled from the river are connected to missing people.

"Our hearts go out to Bernadine's family, friends, and all who have been touched by this tragedy," the nonprofit wrote on Facebook. "United Search Corps remains steadfast in our mission to deliver answers and advocacy to families of the missing."