Update: An arrest was made in this gruesome case. The victim identified as Steven Coleman was shot and dismembered by his girlfriend, 30-year-old Cierra Sutton, according to Baytown Police. Sutton was arrested in New Orleans and charged with murder.
He was somebody's son and possibly somebody's father, husband, brother, friend.
His torso was found among the piles of trash dumped at the Waste Management Baytown Landfill in Chambers County, Texas, on Aug. 22. Few details are available, but preliminary autopsy results indicate the remains are of a male between 13 and 50 years old. His identity and cause of death are still unknown.
Who was he? What happened to him? How did he end up in the trash?
According to the Chambers County Sheriff's Office, a machine operator at the facility spotted the human remains on Aug. 22. The remains, investigators say, came from solid waste collected in Harris, Liberty or Chambers County that same day.
With help from Texas Rangers and Texas Department of Criminal Justice cadaver dogs, Chambers County detectives spent several days searching the landfill, but it's unclear if anything else related to this case was found.
Detectives are looking at missing persons reports and are asking for the public's help to solve this case.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office at 409-267-2500 or Chambers County Crime Stoppers at 844-860-8477.
By: Claudia Rivero
As Texas braced for Hurricane Harvey's arrival, one Houston-area family desperately searched for their loved one who mysteriously vanished right before the storm.
37-year-old realtor Crystal Seratte McDowell was last seen on surveillance video leaving her boyfriend's apartment the morning of Aug. 25, hours before Hurricane Harvey made landfall. According to local and national media reports, Crystal was headed to pick up her children, 5 and 8, at the home she shared with her ex-husband in Baytown - a suburb east of Houston. She hasn't been seen or heard from since.
Crystal's uncle Jeff Walters told reporters that his niece was scheduled to meet clients that afternoon but never showed up. Walters filed a missing person report the next day, but by then Hurricane Harvey was pounding the region, stretching resources thin and making it difficult for investigators to conduct a search. Walters went on to say that Crystal's ex-husband showed him a text message, reportedly from Crystal, stating that she would be picking up the kids and heading to Dallas to ride out the storm. Walters told CBS News he doubts the text was sent by his niece.
According to reports, Crystal's black 2013 Mercedes Benz was found partially submerged in flood water at a Motel 6 parking lot in Mont Belvieu, 12 miles away from the ex-husband's home. Two people were questioned but have since been released.
According to media reports, Crystal — a realtor at Virginia Malone & Associates, LLC, in Baytown, — texted her boyfriend the morning of Aug. 25 saying that road conditions looked good. That was the last time he heard from her. Crystal's last post on social media was on Aug. 24.
In addition to local coverage, the story was also picked up by the national media — CBS, NBC, along with Inside Edition, HLN, and People Magazine.
In an interview with HLN, Chambers County Sheriff Brian Hawthorne said: "I personally think that there is some wrong doing in this. I think there's some suspicious nature. I don't think she left on her own. I think there's obviously some foul play at this time." In another interview with CBS This Morning Hawthorne said he is "very, very confident" that McDowell is not a victim of the storm.
According to court records, Crystal and her ex-husband's divorce was finalized earlier this year. Crystal's boyfriend, Paul Hargrave, has been vocal about Crystal's disappearance - speaking with news outlets and contributing to a reward that now stands at $15,000 for information that leads to Crystal's whereabouts.
I've reached out to her uncle Jeff Walters, her boyfriend Paul Hargrave, and her ex-husband Steven McDowell and will update if they respond.
Crystal's family has hired a private investigator from Unlimited Investigations and Research Services. Anyone with information on Crystal McDowell is asked to call the Chamber's County Sheriff's Office at 409-267-2500.
Antonio “TJ” Vela Jr. a.k.a. Speshul Ed is known for his sense of humor, his passion for music, and for being the kind of guy who's always there for his family and friends.
TJ, 36, hails from Victoria, Texas, a city of about 67,000 residents, located two hours south of Houston. Those who know TJ say he fell in love with Victoria’s underground hip-hop scene, prompting him to become a rapper and music producer. Samples of his work can be found under the record label Clock Work Records, as well as on SoundCloud and on Youtube.
Andro Gonzales-Crail is good friends with TJ.
“I call him ‘Spesh’ and have known him for over seven years,” Gonzales-Crail told me recently.
“On the outside, he looks like this intimidating, tough guy, but once you get to know him, he’s just the nicest person you could ever meet.”
June 15, 2017
Gonzales-Crail bartends at Sports — a local pub where TJ hangs out — located in the Victoria Square shopping center on John Stockbauer Drive. That’s where he last saw his friend on June 15, 2017. He says it was a quiet night and that TJ was one of about eight customers who stayed until closing time — 2 a.m.
“He did know the people he was talking to, and he was one of the last to leave. He yelled ‘Love y’all’ as he walked out, and that’s the last time anyone saw him," Gonzales-Crail recalls.
The Vela family began to worry when calls and text messages to TJ's phone went unanswered later that day. In an unsettling twist, according to a source familiar with the case, TJ's roommate found the garage door open and on the ground were TJ's cell phone and a plastic bag containing food he apparently purchased on his way home from Sports. Even more disturbing, the next day, the Vela family received a tip about a car that matched TJ's 1999 tan Pontiac Firebird, abandoned with a flat tire, 17 miles away near Venglar Road, a rural area in the town of Inez.
According to local media reports, Victoria Police and the Department of Public Safety conducted an aerial search of the location where the car was found. Although Victoria Police suspect foul play, they remain tight-lipped on the investigation.
“It just doesn’t make any sense,” Gonzales-Crail said. “It’s been two months since he’s been gone, and it sucks that there are no leads.”
People Don't Just Disappear
Family and friends do not believe that TJ left on his own. Is it possible that someone followed TJ from the bar to his house on Waterford Drive? Or from Cimarron Express — the convenience store where he reportedly stopped to get something to eat? Was someone waiting for him in the garage at his house? Was he ambushed? Or did TJ startle someone who was up to no good in the neighborhood? And what about where his car was abandoned? The location is nowhere near his house. If TJ was taken against his will, is it possible that someone else was following in a separate car? Is there surveillance video of him anywhere from the night he vanished? Is the FBI involved in the investigation? Most of all, if TJ's phone was left behind (Victoria Police won't confirm that it was), does it hold the key to solving this case?
I asked those questions to Lt. Eline Moya, spokeswoman for the Victoria Police Department.
"Unfortunately, due to this case being an open and active investigation, I am unable to go into specific details about this case that may jeopardize the integrity of the investigation. The detectives continue to receive Crime Stoppers tips and continue to follow up on all leads," Moya said in an email.
The not knowing haunts the Vela family. But they say the most difficult part is that, even though TJ is well-known in their community, no one is coming forward with solid information. His sisters have turned to social media to express their frustration.
The Vela family is also hoping for more media coverage. For now, they spend several days a week handing out flyers throughout the community and holding up banners with TJ's picture. They urge anyone with information to call the Victoria Police Department and give investigators the piece of the puzzle they need to bring their little brother home.
According to Gonzales-Crail, he and his friends have also distributed flyers all the way to Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Corpus Christi. He's also contacted the local FBI for help. "We're not giving up hope, but each passing day gets harder and harder," Gonzales-Crail said. "If I had known that night that it would be the last time I would see him, I would have told him how much I loved him, how much he is loved, and how much his friendship meant to me."
Antonio Vela Jr. is 6'0 and 185 lbs. He was last seen wearing a gray t-shirt, denim jeans, and black and white Nike sneakers. He has several tattoos including: angel wings and a woman on his back, a Nintendo game controller and a microphone on his left forearm, and a tattoo of his father on his chest.
If you have any information regarding Antonio Vela Jr., call: 1-361-572-4200.
BREAKING: Nearly three months after Akia Eggleston vanished, Baltimore Police now suspect foul play in her disappearance. The 22-year-old was 35 weeks into a high-risk pregnancy when she went missing in late April or early May.
At first, investigators believed that Akia left on her own. However, given the amount of time that has passed, they now say that it's likely something may have happened to Akia and her child. Below is what the Baltimore Police spokesperson told local media:
“At this state, I think we’re prepared to pivot, that foul play is something that we’re absolutely exploring,” Baltimore Police spokesman T.J. Smith says. “We’re obviously beyond the point where she could have given birth.”
If you know where Akia Eggleston is, call the Baltimore Police Missing Persons Division at: 443-984-7385.
Video Source: Baltimore PD Periscope
Imagine the pain the families of four young men shot dead, burned and buried on a property in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, are going through right now.
Nothing can prepare a family for the moment when police officers knock on the door to confirm a loved one's death. If you've never had to experience that door knock, consider yourself blessed. I can tell you from personal experience, it haunts you for life.
The victims are identified as: Dean Finocchario, 19; Thomas Meo, 21; Mark Sturgis, 22; and Jimi Patrick, 19. Their families reported them missing the week of July 6 and from there the investigation took off. This case is a perfect example of how crucial it is for investigators to reach out to the media on missing persons cases, and for the media to respond, especially in those first few hours.
How can the public be expected to come forward with information if they don't even know someone's missing?
Bucks County District Attorney, Matthew Weintraub, was front and center from the start of this investigation, holding multiple news conferences and encouraging the public to provide tips "Keep them coming" he said numerous times. Pictures of the victims were shown on every news channel--local and national--as well as online.
The public responded by providing crucial information to investigators. As a result of those efforts from the public, the media and most of all due to outstanding police work, this case resulted in the arrest of cousins, Cosmo DiNardo, 20, and Sean Kratz, 20.
According to the probable cause affidavit, all four bodies were found on a property belonging to DiNardo's parents. Three of the bodies were buried in a 12-foot-deep common grave, the fourth was buried in a shallow grave not far from the others. In exchange for his confession to the killings, DiNardo won't face the death penalty. Both men are being held without bond.
Although heart-wrenching, at least the victims will be returned to their families and justice will soon prevail. Thank goodness the four young men weren't dismissed as just runaways or troubled youth. The chilling details of their final moments, allegedly over drug deals gone wrong, will haunt their families and the community where this atrocity occurred for years to come.
But at least the families have answers. Their sons' cases won't go cold. Their files won't sit somewhere collecting dust. Most important, they won't have to live with the not knowing as so many families of missing loved ones do. Many missing persons - especially minorities — don't get any media coverage at all.
Metro Crime Stoppers of Maryland is offering a $2,000 reward for information on Akia Eggleston. Akia was eight months pregnant when she disappeared without a trace.
There seems to be conflicting information on when Akia was last seen. Initially it was said May 3, but Metro Crime Stoppers now say it was April 29.
Akia's public Facebook page shows she was last active on April 28, but a close friend of Akia's shared two posts from May 3. In one post, Akia, who uses the profile name New Chi, expresses excitement about her daughter going to summer camp. In the other message, Akia (assuming it's her posting) seems upset. Is it possible that Akia argued with someone that day? If so, with who? It's not clear if investigators have gained access to her cell phone records, social media messages or email accounts.
If you know where Akia is or who she's with, call: 1-866-7-LOCKUP
By: Claudia Rivero
A nightmare. That's how Nancy Peña describes what life has been like ever since her twin brother Horacio was killed — shot multiple times outside his home in Phoenix, Arizona — on June 3, 2016.
The pain so overwhelming and paralyzing, Nancy says it's been hard to function. She lost a job and at times felt her life spiraling out of control.
"It's been a horrific journey," Nancy told me recently via an email.
Phoenix police linked Horacio's case to a string of random shootings carried out by the so-called "Phoenix Serial Street Shooter" — a phantom gunman who targeted men, women, and children mostly in the West Phoenix community of Maryvale — from August 2015 to July 2016.
A break in the case came in April with the arrest of former bus driver Aaron Juan Saucedo for the 2015 shooting death of his mother's boyfriend, Raul Romero. The following month, on May 8, investigators announced Saucedo, 23, was also the prime suspect in the Phoenix Serial Street Shooter case. They also added the shooting death of Jesse Olivas, 22, to the other seven linked to that investigation.
But it took nearly two months for Saucedo to be officially charged in the serial shooter investigation. Nancy says she began to question whether the cops had the right guy. Even worse, she feared her brother's murder would remain unsolved.
"I was driving myself crazy with so many questions," Nancy said.
On June 27, a grand jury handed up a 20-count indictment of the former bus driver. In addition to the shooting death of his mother's boyfriend, Saucedo is now officially charged with eight more counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder, six counts of drive-by shootings, two counts of aggravated assault, one count of discharging a firearm and one count of endangerment.
Below is Nancy Peña's response to the indictment. She sent it to me on July 4.
What was your reaction when you heard about the grand jury's decision?
Relief. For the past few weeks I started feeling doubtful that he'd be officially charged with the shootings. It was going on almost two months since he was booked, and yet he was only being held in jail for the murder of Raul Romero (his mother's boyfriend). I was naive in the beginning thinking that he would definitely be facing charges for the serial shootings, but a month into it I couldn't find anywhere in print that he would; he was only being named as the prime suspect.
Then on June 19, when they released the date of his trial it was only for the killing of Mr. Romero. That is when I started to wonder if they even had the right guy. Why was it be taking so long to indict him, especially in such a high-profile case? Did they not have enough evidence? I was driving myself crazy with so many questions. So when they officially charged him I wanted to fall to my knees. It felt like my fight to do anything needed to get the person responsible caught was finally over.
I could finally grieve the loss of my twin brother without the distraction of knowing the suspect was still loose. The interviews we all did to keep this case out there were all emotionally draining. Where we would be advancing in our grieving process, we would take two steps back after an interview because we had to continually relive it in order to answer the questions. I've lost a job because of it. It's been a horrific journey, but to know he will no longer cause other families to hurt the way we have is such a relief.
How did you find out about the indictment?
Through media reports. I set up an alert on my email to get updates on the case, and that's how I found out. The media has been the one keeping us informed unfortunately, and it's been frustrating to have others ask me how I felt about the latest turn of events and me not knowing what they were talking about. I'd have to Google it to get more information. But with that being said, I know that officers have put countless hours into this case to get us to where we're at now. I hope they know I will be forever grateful to them for that. -Nancy Peña
UPDATE: According to local news reports, attorney's for Saucedo waived his presence in the courtroom for his arraignment on July 6. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. His next court date is set for August 16.
By: Claudia Rivero
Family and friends waited for Akia Eggleston at her baby shower celebration on May 7. Hours went by but Akia never showed up. When she didn’t answer her phone and didn’t pick up her daughter as planned, concerned family members went to the apartment Akia shared with two roommates but it was empty. The Baltimore native, who was 35 weeks into a high-risk pregnancy, was nowhere to be found.
“At first we thought maybe she was at the hospital and just didn't have her phone, but now I just feel like someone has done something to her, but who? We just don’t know,” said Cici Diaz.
Cici says her cousin is Akia's boyfriend and the father of her baby. "I've known Akia since she was 5-years-old, she's like my family. Nobody knew he was the baby's father except me. She only told me," Cici said.
Initially it was said the last time family members had contact with Akia was on May 3. But now, according to Crime Stoppers of Maryland, it was on April 29. It is not clear why that date changed.
According to Cici, Akia was excited about her second baby--a boy--but she struggled with the pregnancy.
“Akia was very high-risk. She was on strict bed rest and had issues walking. She couldn’t even get herself together. She was kind of disabled in a way,” Cici said. "The baby was supposed to get a scheduled cesarean on May 27, but she didn't show up."
Akia doesn't own a car which is why her family finds it difficult to believe the 22-year-old left on her own.
“We contacted the police but nobody showed up for 2-3 hours. We had to go to the police station and they told us, ‘Maybe she’s depressed, maybe she just ran away,’ but we know her condition and that girl could barely walk,” Cici said.
Something else that stands out to Akia's family is the lack of activity on her social media.
"That's what really alarmed us because she's always on social media. She puts everything on social media and nobody has seen her post anything," Cici said.
The last time Akia posted on her public Facebook page was April 28.
Before she disappeared, Akia reportedly told several friends that she had received harassing text messages from her boyfriend's ex-girlfriend. Cici says the two women have never gotten along.
“The messages were crazy and then this all of the sudden happens right before her baby is born? So we were suspecting her, to be quite honest. But we don’t want to slander her name if she has no involvement. It could be anyone, even a total stranger,” Cici said.
According to local TV station ABC 2 WMAR, Baltimore police didn't suspect foul play, at least that's what they said in the beginning. The person who answered the phone at the Baltimore PD missing persons division referred me to the information on their Facebook page. It doesn't provide many details, therefore, it's unclear if investigators still believe Akia left on her own now that two months have passed since she disappeared.
The more time that goes by with no answers the more difficult it is for Akia's family. In addition to her baby shower and medical appointments, Akia also missed her 3-year-old daughter's birthday in late June.
"She just keeps asking where her mommy is, and we don't know what to tell her," Cici said.
Family members are now caring for the little girl.
"Akia just let us know that you're OK. We love you, and Emery needs you."
Akia Eggleston lived at the Middle Branch Apartments and Townhomes in the Cherry Hill area of South Baltimore. She's 4'8", 145lbs., has a tattoo of two cherries on her left shoulder and a tattoo of the name "Emery" on her right bicep. Family members say that Akia also has a very distinctive voice. If you know where Akia is or what happened to her, please call Crime Stoppers of Maryland: 1-866-7-LOCKUP
On March 28, 2017, the case of missing Delaware mom Nefertiri Trader, took a turn. The mother of three, who was abducted outside her home in 2014, is now presumed dead.
New Castle County Police did not say why they took this unusual step since Nefertiri hasn't been found, but according to local news reports, investigators hope to generate fresh leads that will help them solve this case. How?
Despite the ruling, Denise Trader believes her daughter is still out there and says she will never give up hope and will never stop looking for "Neffie" until she comes home. Denise also wants to remind the public that a $30,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to Nefertiri's whereabouts.
If you know anything about the kidnapping of Nefertiri Trader or if you know where she is, please call: New Castle County Police or 1-800-CALL-FBI. What if this was your daughter or sister? Wouldn't you want someone to come forward?
By: Claudia Rivero
At a small gathering in New Castle, Delaware, friends and family pause to remember Nefertiri Trader on her 35th birthday and to pray for her safe return.
It’s an emotional day for Denise Trader. Nefertiri, also known as "Neffie", is her oldest daughter. Their birthday is on the same day, Feb. 21.
“I miss her so much,” said Denise, fighting back tears. It’s obvious Nefertiri's absence has taken it’s toll.
The mother of three was abducted outside her home in New Castle, Delaware, in the early morning hours of June 30, 2014. Nefertiri had just returned from a quick trip to a nearby 7-Eleven convenience store.
According to investigators, a neighbor witnessed a man forcing Nefertiri into the back seat of her car but didn’t call the police.
Haunted by her daughter’s disappearance and the lack of answers, Denise dedicates her time to keeping Nefertiri’s story in the public eye.
“It’s not easy. The more time that goes by the harder it gets,” said Denise.
She makes weekly calls to investigators at the New Castle County Police and the FBI. She reaches out to the media and begs the public to come forward with information.
“I also pray for the guy who took Neffie, and I hope and pray that God softens his heart because he will not be content with himself until he releases her," said Denise.
The gathering was a celebration of Nefertiri’s life. Denise released three balloons — one for each of Nefertiri's children — followed by a prayer.
"We're out here to let everyone know that we love her and that she is not forgotten," said Maytia Trader, Nefertiri's younger sister.
Despite a combined $30,000 reward offered for information in the case, investigators have little to go on. Still, Denise is determined to bring her daughter home.
"I will keep searching for my child no matter what."
If you have information about Nefertiri Trader contact Detective DiSabatino at (302) 395-8110 or (302) 573-2800.
Claudia Rivero Reporter and Producer