Fort Worth

Families Hope to Find Link to Missing Fort Worth Trio in Cars Salvaged From Benbrook Lake

Rachel Arnold Trlica, Renee Wilson and Julie Moseley went missing in 1974

Saturday marked a big day for one of Fort Worth's most enduring mysteries. Three girls, known as the "missing trio," disappeared while shopping for Christmas presents in 1974.

Saturday, a volunteer dive team set out to lift two cars from the bottom of Benbrook Lake that the girls' families believe may be connected to the case.

The first car came up easily, with a crowd of people who've followed this case over the years looking on. That car is already off with a team of forensic scientists looking for evidence, but the second car proved as difficult to uncover as the truth in this decades-old mystery.

UPDATE: Family members tell NBC5 forensic scientists did not find any remains, nor any sign of the missing girls in the first car retrieved. They were able to find a VIN number that investigators are now tracing to see if it connects to any other cases.

When you've waited nearly 44 years for answers, any step toward closure feels enormous.

"We try and try and try to just keep on going, we have to, we can't give up," said Fran Langston, one of the missing girl's mothers.

Langston is still searching for her daughter Rachel Arnold Trlica. Rachel was 17 the last time anyone saw her, shopping for Christmas presents with her friend Renee Wilson, 14, and neighbor Julie Moseley, 9, at Seminary South Shopping Center in 1974.

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"Seems like every time I turn a corner, I see a little girl who looks just like her," Langston said.

Over four decades, Rachel's family has done its own detective work, leading them to Benbrook Lake.

"There was a car that we couldn't find out what happened to it and we figured this would be the closest place," said Rachel's brother Rusty Arnold.

Texas EquuSearch used sonar technology to locate three cars in the lake. The family hoped one of them may be tied to a person of interest.

So on Saturday, a team of volunteer divers set out to drag two of them out of the water. The first came easily.

"Trying to determine if the car's a crime scene, if there's any bodies in the cars, if there's any jewelry or something that might lead to something," Arnold said.

The second car is a bigger challenge. It's flipped upside down and stuck deep in the mud. When airbag lifts weren't enough, divers tried to dig with shovels.

To Julie Moseley's brother, watching from the banks of the lake, it felt like a metaphor for the past 40 years.

"Yeah it'd be nice to get all of this unstuck and get it figured out," Moseley said. "I don't know if it's going to happen."

"Whether we find the girls or we don't, still we get to clear this one out," Arnold said. "We get to walk away with this behind us, knowing that we can move on to something else."

Around 5:30 .p.m. the divers decided to give up on freeing the second car for the day. They plan to come back to try again in two weeks.

The divers are volunteers because Fort Worth police said there's not enough evidence to risk such a dangerous dive. They won't even confirm there ever was a missing car in this case.

But for the families of three young girls gone without a trace, it's time to know for sure.

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