Remains Of Maywood Man Missing Since 1982 Found In Bergen Creek

The last time his buddies saw Charles Murphy, former World Series MVP Reggie Jackson had returned to the Bronx, hit a home run and helped the California Angels beat their beloved Yankees.

Charles Stanton "Chip" Murphy (right), Doug Bishop     

Charles Stanton "Chip" Murphy (right), Doug Bishop     

Photo Credit: Doug Bishop / Bergen County Sheriff's Office / BACKGROUND:

That was 42 years ago.

Decades passed, then Doug Bishop showed up.

Bishop's name may be familiar to some, thanks to the acclaim the diver received for his help finding the remains in a South Jersey river late last week of a Camden woman who'd gone missing 14 years ago.

That was actually a side trip of sorts.

Bishop and his non-profit United Search Corps had brought their sonar to New Jersey for a search of Overpeck Creek in Ridgefield Park.

Sure enough, they got a hit on May 3.

"Indicators of submerged artifacts were originally detected by a private, non-profit dive company, which notified law enforcement of its discovery," Bergen County Prosecutor Mark Musella said on Tuesday, May 21.

Divers from the Bergen County Regional SCUBA Task Force went down and retrieved the remains.

At that point, Musella said, "extensive forensic testing was required to establish identity."

Bishop at first said he was bound by secrecy. That changed with Musella's announcement Tuesday of a confirmed identity.

"The entire Murphy family would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Doug Bishop, the Bergen County Regional Dive Team, the Bergen County Sheriff’s Department, and all other involved agencies for their hard work and determination bringing this mystery to an end, and giving us closure after decades of uncertainty," Joanna O'Toole posted on Facebook.

"Funeral arrangements will be forthcoming," she added.

Charles Stanton "Chip" Murphy had gone to Yankee Stadium with four friends on April 27, 1982. He ended up driving back to New Jersey early after rain cut Reggie Jackson's return to seven innings.

Murphy wanted to stop off at a pub in Rochelle Park before heading to his Lodi home, his pals told investigators.

He was driving his girlfriend's 1974 silver Chevy Camaro, which apparently was low on gas, when he dropped one of them off in Ridgefield Park.

An attendant at an all-night gas station on nearby Route 46 told investigators he recalled seeing the car and someone who fit Murphy's description that night.

Neither was reported ever seen again.

Authorities at the time said they suspected "foul or suspicious circumstances," but they wouldn't go into details.

Murphy, who grew up in Maywood, didn't have a history of mental illness or drug use -- he didn't even smoke, investigators said.

The Hackensack High School graduate also didn't gamble, hadn't run afoul of the law and had never run off.

He's reportedly just borrowed some money from his father and an older brother for a photo-developing business he was launching in Bergenfield. 

In other words: Nothing public pointed to the potential for trouble.

What authorities did know was that Overpeck Creek was essentially two turns from Murphy's friend's house.

Decades passed and attempts at finding the Camaro in the creek failed.

Nothing really changed -- except, of course, dramatic improvements in technology. That prompted a call to Bishop's United Search Corps.

Launched less than a year and a half ago, Bishop's outfit uses sonar to find submerged vehicles in rivers and lakes. 

The thinking is: A lot of people who are reported missing have actually crashed -- either accidentally or intentionally -- and are in unmarked watery graves.

Bishop helps find them.

Musella, in announcing the discovery on Tuesday, said he had to be circumspect with details until his investigators can be absolutely certain how and why Murphy died. After all, you never know.

A joint investigation by his office, Ridgefield Park police and the Bergen County Sheriff's Office is continuing, the prosecutor said.

Musella said that he'd "like to thank all entities involved, both public and private, for their ongoing cooperation in this matter."

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