In August 2019, 13-year-old Max Werenka noticed a mysterious object deep beneath the water at Griffin Lake Cabins, a popular holiday spot in British Columbia, Canada. Curious about the unknown object in the lake, the teenager dove deep into the murky water with his GoPro and to his surprise, he unraveled a 27-year-old mystery.
This Summer Would Be Different
Every summer in British Columbia, Canada, Max Werenka and his family spent their time at a small but popular holiday park called Griffin Lake Cabins which was owned by Max’s family. However, in the summer of 2019, Max and his family came face-to-face with a decades old mystery.
Werenka Was an Adrenaline Junkie
Werenka lives for an adrenaline rush. He has a love for sledding in the mountains and anything with an engine. The outdoorsy daredevil teenager loves hunting and fishing, but he had no idea that his adventurous nature would help him uncover a truly mind-blowing secret.
He Had a Curious Nature
Thirteen-year-old Max Werenka has always been a curious child. “I always like to question things,” he told CTV News. So, when he realized he had found something in the lake, his curiosity was piqued in ways he never could have imagined. But was he aware that what he had stumbled upon was a lot more gruesome than he could’ve ever anticipated?
He Found More Than He Bargained For
The young man wasn’t looking to solve a mystery or a potential crime when he went on a boat ride on Griffin Lake, but fate had set him on that path anyway. So, with destiny on his shoulder, he went out to see what was out there, not realizing he was going to find more than he bargained for.
Not an Average Boat Ride
The family spent every summer on their boat at the same lake, so they were extremely familiar with the area. But, they were be shocked one day when they noticed something out of the ordinary in the water that would force them to re-inspect their familiar surroundings.
Something Strange Beneath the Water
Max Werenka regularly carried his GoPro with him when he wandered the popular holiday resort. On this particular day he was chatting to another family staying at the lake when they spotted an unusual shadowy figure under the surface of the water and asked the teenager to take a look with his GoPro. What he would find would shock them all.
The Object Was Nice and Shiny
The guests told him that they had noticed something shiny lurking at the bottom of the water, which only made the teen even more eager to investigate. There was no way that he was going to leave without getting some answers and that’s exactly what he did.
No One Had a Clue What It Was
“You could see something almost like a shadow, like an imprint,” the Canadian teen told The Washington Post. But what was possibly lurking underneath? Werenka had a sinking feeling that something was very wrong. This wasn’t just a rusty boat that had sunk to the bottom of the lake.
He Was Not Expecting What Lay Beneath
After noticing the strange reflection of what appeared to be shiny metal, 13-year-old Werenka pushed his paddle board closer to the mysterious object and jumped into the lake to begin his investigation. Upon reaching the spot in question, he shockingly discovered that the mysterious glistening object was in fact a car.
He Was Face to Face With a Sunken Car
In an interview with the Washington Post in September, 2019, the teenager described how when he got closer to the object he could see something shiny reflecting back at him and then he realized that he was looking at an exhaust pipe. As he carried out a further inspection, he could see he was staring at a car laying upside down.
Why Was There a Car at the Bottom of the Lake?
The teenager’s discovery of a car at the bottom of this remote lake sparked a lot of questions and concerns for the residents of the holiday park. The teenager and his family began to do some research in order to find answers as to why a car was submerged beneath a lake in this quiet corner of Canada.
A Reasonable Explanation
Werenka and his family did an internet search to find out why there was a car submerged beneath Griffin Lake. Interestingly, they learned of an accident 10 years before where a car had crashed into the lake, during which four people were rescued. The family were satisfied they had an explanation for the sunken car and assumed the vehicle was related to the accident back in 2009.
The Family Researched the Accident
“We researched and there had been an accident in 2009 and we initially assumed it was a leftover vehicle from the people who were rescued,” Nancy Werenka told TODAY, but she was very wrong. She just didn’t know it yet. What’s even worse is that Mrs. Werenka had no idea she was about to embark on a dark journey that would unravel a horrible secret.
Their Assumptions Were Wrong
The day after the teenager’s discovery, an off-duty police officer and his family visited the resort. Max’s mother, Nancy, was chatting with the officer when the topic of the previous day’s findings came up. She mentioned how it was strange that the car was never retrieved from the water, but the police officer was sure that the car from the 2009 accident had, in fact, been removed from the lake.
The Authorities Needed to Get Involved
On August 21st, 2019, a team of officers showed up to the lake to carry out an investigation into the mysterious vehicle lying beneath the water. 13-year-old Werenka played a key role in the investigation with his first hand account of what he saw, but also with the evidence he provided from his GoPro.
He Led Authorities to the Lake
The teenager led the officers to an area that was about 10 feet away from the western shore of the lake that hugged the highway. But there was an obstacle in the water that would prove difficult to see for everyone except the teen.
The Teenager Helped Officers with the Investigation
Werenka and the officers took a boat out to the vehicle in question. However, the water conditions were murky, which made it difficult for the officers to inspect the car from the surface of the lake. Determined to get answers and, of course, evidence, the teenager helped the officers gather clues by diving into the water with his GoPro, capturing clear footage of the car.
The GoPro Recorded Crucial Evidence
The teenager bravely dove under the muddy water to help authorities answer their questions surrounding this mysterious motor. The video, which has since been released online, captures the car lying with its wheels facing the sky. But why was this car here, and who did it belong to?
The Car Had Been There for a Long Time
The video footage captured by the brave 13-year-old showed a car covered in a thick coat of mud and vegetation. Marine life had even begun growing inside the car, so it was obvious that the vehicle had been submerged in the water for quite some time. So, how did it end up at the bottom of the lake?
A Closer Look
Three days after Max Werenka provided the authorities with video footage of the car, investigators began their search for answers and brought in experienced divers to take a closer look at the car. What they would discover would shock the residents of Griffin Lake Cabins and re-open an un-solved case after almost 30 years.
The First Major Piece of Evidence
Once the divers were in close proximity to the car, they first took note of its registration plate which provided major evidence for the case and linked the vehicle to a 27-year-old missing person’s case.
They Now Knew Who the Car Belonged To
Apparently, the car was registered to Janet Farris, a 69-year-old woman who was reported missing by her family back in 1992. Farris’ case had surprisingly never been solved and her family were left in limbo about her disappearance for almost 30 years.
They Didn't Expect a Kid to Solve Their Mystery
The mystery of what happened to Farris had haunted her family for decades, but they never imagined that a boy born 14 years after her disappearance would finally close this cold case for authorities. But first, the vehicle had to be raised.
They Needed to Raise the Vehicle From the Lake
The police returned to the scene a few days after, and they didn’t come alone. They brought a tow truck and a dive team to help them raise the sunken vehicle from its watery grave. Little did they know that a gruesome discovery was about to unravel a decades old mystery.
Piecing the Puzzle Together
As the authorities pulled the water-damaged Honda Accord from the lake, investigators noticed a key feature that would piece together the mysteries of this case. Interestingly enough, the car did not look as if anybody tried to escape from it as all of its windows and doors were closed shut.
The Community Was in Shock
"It was very shocking. We weren’t expecting anything like this," Nancy Werenka told the Washington Post. The residents of this popular summer resort had no idea that a 27-year-old mystery lay beneath the lake they so often leisured on. However, the discovery of the car wreckage wasn’t the only thing that would shock them as the story took another gruesome turn.
The Teen Wondered About the Driver
When the teenager first saw the car emerge from the water, he noticed that the doors and windows were shut. So, he immediately wondered about what had happened to the driver, and soon, all his questions would have an answer.
More Chilling Evidence Was About to Surface
Tragically, the mystery behind the missing woman’s case was solved as investigators found the remains of a body inside the car. After a forensic examination, the evidence proved that the body belonged to Janet Farris who had gone missing 27 years before her car was accidentally found by 13-year-old Max Werenka.
What Happened to Janet Farris?
According to Farris’ family, Janet had been traveling alone across the country from Vancouver Island to Alberta to attend a wedding when she disappeared. However, with the lack of cell phones and instant communication that we have available to us today, it was a while before Janet’s family realized that something was wrong.
Her Family Realized She Was Missing
Two weeks after the wedding that Janet was supposed to attend, her family received a call wondering why she had never shown up to the event. To the family’s concern, they reported Janet missing to the authorities.
The Road Was Narrower Back Then
The Canadian teen’s mother told The Washington Post that back in the day, the road near Griffin Lake was narrower all those years ago. It didn’t even have cement barricades to keep cars from driving into the embankment, otherwise the Farris family would have had a mother and grandmother for a few more years.
Her Case Was Left Unsolved
As the authorities couldn’t provide an answer to Farris’ family as to why she didn’t come home, the family came up with their own theories for their loved one’s disappearance. According to Janet’s son, the family assumed that perhaps she had veered off the road while falling asleep or crashed, trying to avoid hitting an animal.
She Vanished Without a Trace
Farris had vanished off the face of the Earth. If the family had known she had passed all those years ago, it would have been easier to cope, but they didn’t have any answers. All they knew was that there was no trace of her, and her car was never found until now.
Her Son Learned to Live With Her Disappearance
Her son, George Farris, 62, told CTV News that remembering the good memories of his mother was what helped him and the rest of the family get through their grief. “After the first year, you just carry on,” he said. “You come to live with it.”
Not Knowing Was the Worst Thing
"I think the worst thing was not knowing," Farris’ son told the CBC. But now that her body had been discovered, he and the family were finally able to move on. "Given a sad situation, it's the best of all outcomes,” he added.
Her Last Known Location Was at a Gas Station
Farris’ son told the CBC that her mother’s last known location was at a gas station in Salmon Arm. After she had disappeared, the entire family joined the police and rescue teams in their search across the highway, but nothing ever turned up.
The Family Had Lost Hope of Finding Her
Given the fact that she was 69 when she vanished all those years ago, the family knew that they would never see her again. They also accepted that she had passed away somewhere on the highway, but they didn’t know how, until now.
She Was 40 Minutes From the Cabins
The gas station was over half an hour’s drive from the Griffin Lake cabins. “That’s approximately 40 minutes from us,” the Canadian teen’s mom told People. “That was the last trace of her. Other than that they didn’t know where she was, from there to Alberta.”
Grieving for Almost Three Decades
Since the discovery of Farris’ body, her family have spoken about their grief and how fond memories of their mother and grandmother helped them to cope through the years. The family have since expressed their appreciation to Max Werenka and his family for finally giving them the opportunity to lay Janet to rest.
Janet Was Finally at Peace
According to her son, Farris was cremated and placed next to her husband, who sadly passed away back in 1984. Now, the family will finally be able to move forward and put the past behind them, while keeping the memories of their loved one alive in their hearts. But the teen’s mother can’t help but feel for the Farris family.
Max’s Mom Was Deeply Disturbed
"Oh my gosh. I was just ... a lump in my stomach for the family," the teen’s mother told CBC. "How do you wonder where a family member is for 26 years and not know what happened to them?"
The Farris Family is Healing
Although the Farris family was relieved to have learned the truth, Max Werenka’s mother weighed in on the situation. “I am just sad for the family. They are happy and relieved knowing what happened, she told PEOPLE, and added, “This is giving them closure I hear. I pray for them and am sad for what they went through.”
Authorities Didn’t Suspect Foul Play
Although Farris’ body was found at the bottom of the lake, authorities found nothing to indicate that her untimely passing was the result of foul play. If anything, it was just a case of bad luck, which resulted in a very tragic story for a beloved lady.
Her Family Now Has Closure
In an interview with Global News, Janet Farris’ granddaughter shared how grateful she was to the teenager and his GoPro for revealing her grandmother’s whereabouts after all of these years. For 27 years, her family struggled to put the past behind them until the day a 13-year-old accidentally brought them the closure they needed.
Her Granddaughter Thought About Her Last Moments
“It seemed like there was never an appropriate way to grieve because she was missing. I remember thinking about what her last moments would have been like if her car [did] go off the road.” Farris’ granddaughter, Erin Farris-Hartley, told Global News.
The Teen Was Destined to Find Her
Meanwhile, the teen’s mother couldn’t be prouder of her boy and felt that he was destined to help authorities find Farris. “It was a complete string of flukes,” she told People. “It was like it was meant to happen. It just all aligned.”
A Local Celebrity
Werenka can now call himself a leading figure in the solving of this mysterious old case. As a result of his courage and impressive camera skills, the teenager earned the respect of the authorities and even landed himself a job offer for the future with the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police).
A Tragic Accident
According to the authorities, Farris may have swerved on the country roads to avoid an animal which caused her to veer into the water, unable to escape. Interestingly, the previous owners of Griffin Lake Cabins spent 17 years exploring the lake but never came across the submerged car.
The Farris’ Will Meet Max
Werenka’s mother told TODAY that Farris’ family may come to the lake next spring or summer to meet the boy who found their missing loved one. There will undoubtedly be plenty of hugs and thanks coming this young adventurer’s way in the not so distant future.
Max May Have a Future in Law Enforcement
Meanwhile, the teen might have a future in law enforcement. “The RCMP will probably be looking at this guy down the road for potential employment,” Corporal Thomas Blakney told CTV News. “Good detective work on his part.”