DPS hopes new website helps solve cold cases
|It started more than a decade ago with the discovery of a burning car on a rural road in Anderson County.||
BY KENNETH DEAN
It started more than a decade ago with the discovery of a burning car on a rural road in Anderson County.
Further investigation revealed human remains in the truck, and the death later was ruled a homicide.
But since that day Sept. 18, 2001, the case has become ice cold, and the killer has yet to be found.
This and three other unsolved East Texas killings now are part of a new statewide crime-solving initiative.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has taken cold cases to the Web in an effort to produce clues. The Texas Rangers branch of the DPS has created a page dedicated to the 68 unsolved homicides the Rangers have been involved in across Texas.
In East Texas there are four cases: Three homicides in Anderson County and one in Cherokee County.
In Anderson County:
• Sept. 18, 2001, the Texas Rangers and the Anderson County Sheriff's Office initiated an investigation into the recovery of human remains found in the trunk of an abandoned burning car on CR 3490 in rural Anderson County. Subsequent investigation identified the remains as Joshua Seales. An autopsy was performed, and the death was ruled a homicide.
• July 7, 2008, the Texas Rangers and the Palestine Police Department initiated an investigation into the death of Ricardo Loaeza. Loaeza was discovered lying in a wooded area in the 1600 block of Eilenstein Street in Palestine. An autopsy was performed, and it was determined Loaeza died of a knife wound.
• Aug 20, 2008, the Texas Rangers and the Anderson County Sheriff's Office initiated an investigation into the death of Mary Waters. Ms. Waters was found deceased at her home on a rural county road in Anderson County. An autopsy was showed that Ms. Waters died from a knife wound.
In Cherokee County, the Texas Rangers and the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office initiated an investigation into the death of Dennis Matlock on Jan, 16, 2002. Matlock was found deceased at his residence.
An autopsy was performed that determined Matlock died from a combination of physical injuries.
Officials told media at that time that it was believed the killing was drug-related and that Matlock was bound hand and foot and severely beaten.
Tom Vinger, DPS spokesman, said the website was created in hopes of generating new leads in old cases.
"The Rangers have gone through the cases they have worked with smaller agencies and put that information on this web page for the public to see. We may have more cases added to the site, so that number will probably grow as we move forward," he said.
Vinger said 12 cases from around the state were chosen to be highlighted to hopefully draw more attention to the homicides, but he added the highlighted cases will be rotated out to other cases at various times.
"Cold cases are typically challenging to solve for a variety of reasons, but we want to send a clear message that we are not giving up on these murder victims," DPS Director Steven McCraw said. "Our goal for this webpage - and the investigative efforts supporting it - is to shine a new light on these crimes, so they are not forgotten. We are committed to bringing these ruthless criminals to justice and to bringing some amount of closure to the families involved."
Texas Rangers, along with local police agencies, will reassess - and in some case reanalyze - evidence, and take another look at persons of interest or attempt to develop
new persons of interest. Many of these cases involve smaller or rural police agencies, which the Texas Rangers routinely assist in working murder investigations. Currently, the website features a total of 68 cases dating back to 1978.
"By putting the cases back in the public eye, it increases the possibility that people will come forward with new information or leads that can be investigated," Vinger said.
He said the public will have the opportunity to submit information online through the new web page or by calling a toll free number, 1-800-346-3243. Callers may remain anonymous. The website is www.dps.texas.gov/
Some of the cases have rewards associated with them, which are noted on the website.