Alabama man found in submerged vehicle in Steinhatchee River 28 years after disappearance

This flier was posted on the “James Aaron Toole – Missing Person” Facebook page by Toole’s granddaughters Ashley Solomon and Amanda Marrow as a way to spread the word of their missing ‘papa.’ (Photo courtesy of Amanda Marrow)

The remains of a missing Alabama man were found Thursday in a car submerged in Steinhatchee River in Dixie County.  The man, James Aaron Toole, was 72 years old when he disappeared in 1995. 

According to the Houston County Sheriff’s Office, a Chevrolet Cavalier was pulled out of Steinhatchee River during cleanup after Hurricane Idalia. As the vehicle was being pulled out by divers, Toole’s bones were identified in the car along with a credit card and Sam’s Club card with Toole’s name. 

Toole was last seen over 28 years ago on May 15, 1995. That day, he told his granddaughter he was driving from their home in Pansey, Alabama, to north central Florida to visit a sick relative. A relative later passed him on the road as he was driving down Houston County Road 75, though Toole never made it to the relative’s home. 

Since Toole’s disappearance, his granddaughter, Ashley Solomon, has maintained a Facebook account on her “papa’s” case. On May 15, 2020, Solomon made a post on the account to mark the 25th anniversary since her grandfather’s disappearance. 

“It’s been a roller coaster, and sometimes it feels like it’s impossible. No one seems to care about a 70 something year old man going missing,” Solomon wrote in the 2020 post. 

Amanda Marrow, Toole’s granddaughter and Solomon’s older sister, recalled her last conversation with Toole in a 2013 interview with the Dothan Eagle newspaper. Marrow said the conversation was not so much about what Toole had said, but how he said it. She recalled him telling her at the time “you know that I love you.”

“I think he taught me how to love. He taught me how to love so much it hurt. He was my best friend in the whole wild world, and I miss him,” Marrow said. 

Before the 2020 post, Solomon and Marrow said they were contacted by a woman in Bainbridge, Georgia, who stated she had Toole’s wallet. The wallet was definitely Toole’s, as inside were photos of his grandchildren, including Solomon and Marrow. How the woman came to be in possession of his wallet and when is unknown.

Now that Toole and his car have been found and identified, Solomon and Marrow said they are reassured that their ‘papa’ did not voluntarily decide to leave his family. 

“We are still waiting for information to be uncovered and try not to speculate on what happened to him. We are hopeful that more questions get answered,” Solomon said. 


This is a breaking news story. Check back for further developments. Contact WUFT News by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing

About Debra Garcia

Debra is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing

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