WHARTON, Texas (AP) — Authorities near Houston have uncovered the possible remains of a 15-year-old girl who was missing for 25 years, after the family of a suspect in her death came forward with a tip, sheriff's officials said Wednesday.
The tip led Wharton County deputies to property owned by the suspect's family in a neighboring county where the likely remains of Rosemary Diaz were found on Tuesday, county officials said at a news conference.
Diaz went missing in 1990 from a general store in Danevang, about 70 miles southwest of Houston, and the property where the remains were found is not far from that unincorporated rural community. A ring found near the remains resembles one given in 1990 to the teen for her quinceanera, a coming-of-age celebration for Latinas.
Forensic tests must be conducted to confirm the remains are Diaz.
Authorities have not released the identity of the suspect, who they say died months ago. He was in his 20s at the time of Diaz's abduction from the store, the Houston Chronicle reports. Sheriff's Sgt. Scott Grosser said robbery did not appear to be a motive and that the crime appears to be one of opportunity.
It's not clear that the man was ever considered a suspect at the time of Diaz's disappearance.
Grosser said the man made "partial confessions" to family members over the years and that after he died they pieced together what they had been told.
"They weren't sure what they knew," Grosser said. "No one person had the full story."
The family is assisting in the investigation, he said, declining to name the suspect or the family because the case is ongoing.
The rural property where the remains were found was covered over the years by trees and brush, according to the Chronicle.
"The main thing is closure for the Diaz family," Grosser said. "That's a family that has kept the memory of Rosemary alive for 25 years. They never let her memory die. They never gave up. It's all about bringing Rosemary home now."