The body of a woman who went missing almost 12 years ago was just discovered in a retention pond near Walt Disney World, WESH 2 News reports.
Human Remains Found Near Walt Disney World
Sandra Lemire disappeared in May of 2012 after leaving for a date with a man she met online. She was living with her grandmother, Pauline Varner, in Orlando and drove a red minivan. Her family, including her son Timothy Lemire Jr., have wondered what happened to her ever since.
Mike Sullivan and his volunteer dive group at the nonprofit Sunshine State Sonar began searching for Sandra Lemire a year and a half ago. Sunshine State Sonar provides diving services for free to families and law enforcement. Since launching in January 2022, they have located the remains of seven missing people. They searched 63 bodies of water looking for Lemire.
“Of all the cases we were working,” Sullivan said, “this was the case I was least optimistic about.”
Two weeks ago, the Orlando Police Department gave Sullivan’s team a clue: the location of her last cell phone tower ping. The group put together a map of possible locations. On Saturday, December 30, they found a red minivan in a retention pond along State Road 417 and I-4 near World Drive, which runs through Walt Disney World.
“I was hyperventilating. I was stressed out. I put all my dive gear on, my wetsuit and I just dove in that water,” Sullivan said of spotting the minivan. “I had to get that confirmation for us. We had to know.”
Sullivan dove into the water and identified the minivan’s license plate numbers. He immediately video-called Timothy Lemire Jr.
“What he did was amazing. And without him and his team, none of this would have been possible,” Lemire Jr. said. “They didn’t ask for a dollar. That’s just the kindness of their heart.”
“Deep in my heart. I always thought this was a foul play case. And it turned out to be just a bad, terrible car accident,” Sullivan said. “I’m just so proud of our team.”
Lemire Jr. said on Monday that he has “a lot of mixed emotions” about the situation. “I’m happy she wasn’t murdered or kidnapped or anything like that because we’ve been thinking that for years,” he said.
The Orlando Police Department, Florida Highway Patrol, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, and Osceola County Sheriff’s Office all responded to the scene to help recover the vehicle.
“There’s this one video where you can see the van on the tow truck and the truck pulling off,” Lemire Jr. continued. “And [Sullivan] said, ‘Timothy, we’re finally bringing your mother home.’ And that destroyed me when he said that. After all these years.”
Florida Highway Patrol is handling the crash and told WESH that they are waiting for the Medical Examiner’s Office to officially identify the remains.
The Orlando Police Department also shared this statement:
“We can confirm that the red vehicle located in the water on World Drive is tied to the missing person case of Sandra Lemire. We are waiting on positive identification of the human remains that were located in the vehicle. FDLE is working on that. Detectives have been in contact with the family. Once we get new updates, we will provide that to you.”