Family of woman missing for 25 yrs. meets man who located car, remains

Published: Updated:

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Family members of a woman, missing for 25 years, arrived in Southwest Florida to claim her remains.

Rita Zul was 36 when she vanished in 1990. This week, a man located her car and remains in a retention pond near the Lee Civic Center.

It was an emotional day for everyone involved as WINK News brought together Zul’s relatives and the man who found the car.

Zul’s daughter, Melissa Magier, hugged Scott Dunlap, the man who found the car and her mother’s remains.

“I just have to take comfort in that she’s not suffering anymore,” said Magier. “That’s what I have to hold in my heart.”

Relatives, including two of Zul’s sisters, drove to Lee County from Crestview in the Florida Panhandle.

They wanted to stop at the location, and to meet Dunlap.

He placed a flower arrangement at the edge of the pond.

“It’s important that they receive closure here. You know for 25 years they wondered if some monster had a hold of their mom and sister,” said Dunlap, “that’s a horrible thing to have to go through.”

Last Monday, Dunlap used a fishing line with a magnet on the end to locate the red, Datsun 280Z. Zul was driving the car when she vanished one night in January 1990. After leaving a party near the Lee Civic Center, she was never seen again.

“When you have a loved one, that vanishes unexpectedly, you never give up hope,” said Magier.

Dunlap says he’s putting together a team of volunteers to search for missing cars and persons.

“It’s actually going to be called ‘Team Closure,'” said Dunlap. “We’re gonna use Google Maps to start off with, focusing on some key areas and then get out with a team and use some sophisticated equipment.”

For now, Zul’s story ends sadly. But at least, it has an ending.

“Living with uncertainty is a very emotional thing. We’re just thankful for the detectives and Mr. Dunlap,” said Magier.

The family will claim the remains in Lee County. Zul will then be buried, next to her mother and father, at a cemetery in Crestview.

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.