Plane wreckage found belonging to missing Howell couple recovered after more than 20 years

Posted at 5:41 PM, Jul 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-13 09:08:12-04

The plane belonging to a Howell couple, Mark and Janet Davies, missing for over 20 years, has been found in the Upper Peninsula. A national forest service worker found the plane wreckage and it's now being handled by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Ron Cooper was a good friend of the Davies. He organized searches in the days after they went missing, and he says he never gave up hope that they'd get answers. 

Mark had never missed a day of work in his life, or his wife. They were punctual, so when he didn't show up, they knew something was wrong. 

And for years, Cooper, an aircraft mechanic and retired Livingston County Sheriff's Deputy, wondered whatever happened to his friends, Mark and Janet Davies. Today, in St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula, the 20-year-old wreckage of their plane was found. 

"We looked every place," Cooper said. "There's no doubt we did the grid... and then after the civil air patrol gave up, I went out myself. I was good friends of Mark and Janet and I just kept trying to find them. I figured they went in the lake. (We) had a memorial with the family and that was it."

The Davies' plane was last seen on Sept. 14, 1997. That's when they departed Drummond Island to return to Howell where they lived. Janet, an art teacher with Brighton Schools and her husband, Mark, a manager at a car dealership, were never heard from again. The news devastating so many people, including Janet's students.

"I think we all expected the worst because we knew they were on the plane and it was just sad that no one had answers and everyone felt for her family," said Jennifer Eschelbach. "I still have a picture she drew of me, and she used me as the model to demonstrate. It's been a treasured possession ever since."

Cooper says his old friend Mark was still learning to use the instruments and believes he just got confused. 

"I think he just got vertigo," Cooper said. "We had no idea he turned in there and went west, and it shocks me that, gosh, why didn't we look there?"

According to the Livingston County Sheriff, siblings of Mark and Janet were notified today that the plane wreckage had been found.