Washington man helps uncover potential Amelia Earhart photo

KING 5's Amanda Grace reports.

"I didn't go out looking for this story. This story found me."
  
Dick Spink has many titles: Mount Vernon High School science teacher, boat builder, and Amelia Earhart investigator. 
  
His obsession began after a boat sales trip to the Marshall Islands. 

"I'm someone who truly is fascinated because of all of my Marshallese brothers and sisters," said Spink. "They adopted me into the culture down there, and I love going there."

A newly discovered black-and-white photo could provide answers to the mystery of Amelia Earhart. It features a group of people standing on a dock on Jaluit Atoll in the Marshall Islands, including one who seems to be a slim woman with her back to the camera. The figure could be the famed aviator who disappeared 80 years ago this month.

"So when I go there, and I see and hear these stories, and then to see something like this that backs it up, I have nothing but to believe this is the true story," Spink added.

He wanted his own proof that famed Amelia Earhart's plane crash landed on the Marshall Islands, like he'd heard in Marshallese folklore.

"Three years ago I organized the first expedition, and we took some people with metal detectors. We went down and we located several metal fragments," he said.

He thought the metal fragments may have come from her plane, the Koshu Maru.

"One was a very tell-tale piece of trim. That is an exact fit for what would have been on her cowling where her landing gear is," said Spink.

Then he got a call from a fellow Earhart researcher in Olympia. 

"(Retired U.S. Treasury Agent) Les Kenney, he had this photograph that he found on his research/ He called me one afternoon and said, 'Dick, you need to see this photograph that I've had sitting in my briefcase. This is the first time I've really looked at it because I have thousands of pictures,'" recalled Spink.

They pulled the photograph up on a computer and blew it up as big as they could.

"And we took a look at each other and thought, my God, this truly could be the smoking gun," said Spink. "This photograph puts the entire Marshall Island landing story together."

Related: Finder of potential Amelia Earhart picture tells story

"This is a very, very striking - according to an FBI forensic analyst, this is a very high certainty of being Amelia Earhart," said Spink, closely examining the photograph. "Over here we have Fred Noonan (Earhart's navigator)."

"That's unmistakably the Koshu Maru. And that's unmistakably a barge with an aircraft on the back of it."

Spink says there's more to the story than that one photograph, and he's bound to tell it. 

"We will rewrite the history books and tell the true story of what really happened to Amelia Earhart."

 

© 2017 KING-TV


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