CARLISLE, Iowa — It’s hard to believe it now, but the smelly, eroded, filthy old Jeep taking up space in a Des Moines tow yard used to be top of the line.
“It had all the bells and whistles,” said R.D. Streeter, the former owner of the vehicle.
The new car shine has been replaced with rust and the leather interior is now covered with fish. Still, the not so grand Cherokee brings back memories for Streeter and his wife Dee.
“It’s awful. It’s kind of emotional. I didn’t think I would feel this way but it’s kind of emotional,” said R.D. Streeter.
The Des Moines Police Metro S.T.A.R dive team discovered a 1993 Jeep Cherokee at the bottom of Easter Lake during a training exercise Wednesday.
“The officer started to feel around and determined it was a vehicle in the water. He surfaced and told us he had a car underwater,” said Nicholas Lloyd, an officer with the Des Moines Police Department.
Before that, the Streeters last saw the vehicle shortly before reporting it stolen from the parking lot of their Carlisle church in 1998.
It turns out even the local pastor can’t leave his keys in the ignition.
“It had to be kids just wanting to play. They saw a car that looked like fun. The keys were in it,” said Streeter.
Now leaders of a church in Colfax, the Streeter’s aren’t concerned about who stole it.
“Live with yourself. I’ve forgiven you. I haven’t forgotten you,” Streeter told Channel 13 News.
A family who has made a live preaching to others has learned a little advice themselves.
“I used to never lose my car keys because they were always in the car. Now I have to go hunt for them and ask my wife where the keys are,” said Streeter.
The Streeter family has had to answer the question about who steals the pastor’s car not once but twice. In the early 90’s, their Dodge Durango was stolen from a church parking lot on the south side of Des Moines and discovered totaled near some train tracks. No one was ever arrested in that case and who stole the jeep will likely never be determined either.
Carlisle police say the original police report is missing.