ZWOLLE, LA (KSLA) – A massive search for a missing couple finally ended Monday (4/26). But, it wasn't the way anyone wanted in a tightly-knit Ark-La-Tex community now in mourning.
Dozens of people arrived along a stretch of Highway 191, 75 miles south of Shreveport, just north of Zwolle, Louisiana after a sad discovery. A volunteer noticed a reflection in the woods and pulled over to check it out. That's when he spotted the couple's missing Jeep and its two occupants.
Investigators believe their vehicle struck a deer, before veering off into the woods. That was Friday (4/23) night. Three days later that volunteer, Freddie Paul of Converse, Louisiana, was the first person to see the bodies of 58 year olds Charles Britt and Wanda Leone. "He was out under the Jeep. She was still in the jeep."
In fact, Paul said he didn't even have time to call 911. "No, the deputy came by just as I was dialing 911 and I just stopped him." Within an hour, dozens and dozens of people had arrived to mark the end, the end of hoping that everything was going to be alright.
Roger Leone, Wanda's nephew told us, "She was my aunt and she came from a long family of 14 brothers and sisters." Others knew Wanda Leone from her days working at the local bank. Volunteer firefighter and Converse resident Johnny Springer recalled, "Down there at the bank and trust for years in Zwolle; worked the window there, drive-thru window. We all knew her real well."
Sabine Parish Deputy Coroner Ron Rivers says it appears the victims did not survive long after the crash, if at all. It's a tough thing to think about for Rivers, as well. "Know 'em very well. They're very well known in the community, good church-going people, really nice people," added Rivers.
Now comes the mourning process as many people will begin to say their final goodbyes. Even when emergency personnel cleared the scene many others kept arriving to look around at the site where a mystery turned into a tragic ending to a love story.