WOOD COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Investigators in Wood County are hopeful they will soon be able to close a 30-year-old cold case.
Marla Mullins, 24, went missing in 1981. She was never found and the case went cold. But, now, the Wood County District Attorney's Office says a tip led authorities to Kevin Leon Kirbo, an inmate in Huntsville. He is now the prime suspect in Mullins' disappearance.
Mullins' only living relative, her sister, is longing for closure.
"She was a very pretty girl [and] was very popular in high school," said Missy Mullins.
She was also known to socialize and party, something Missy says, got her into trouble.
"She was always hanging with the wrong crowd," said Missy.
But she says her sister did not deserve her fate, vanishing in December of '81.
Missy says Marla used to live at a garage apartment just across the street from a restaurant, which used to be called Arnold's - also the place she was last seen.
"She was supposedly going to a Christmas party at the country club with a certain individual and he went to pick her up and nobody seen her since," said Missy.
She says the man Marla left with was always suspected, but the trail went cold. As time went on, Marla's disappearance became an unsettling mystery in Mineola.
"They had psychics come in [and] they drained ponds," said Missy.
Now, 29 years later, Wood County D.A. Jim Wheeler says they may have a break.
"We've received what appears to be some primary evidence," he said.
Details of that evidence have not been released, but Chopper 7 spotted where East Texas authorities and forensic experts are searching for Mullins' remains along the Sabine River.
"Supposedly, that's where the crime happened and he drug her across the Sabine River over to Smith County," said Missy.
Wheeler says Kevin Kirbo is serving life in prison for a Rains County murder that happened 14 years ago and is now their prime suspect. But, nothing has been recovered yet.
"One of the unfortunate parts of this case is there have been several rabbit trails and we're not interested in making this worse," explained Wheeler.
"I just hope this is an end to it and the guy confessed to doing it and went and showed them where he had done it," said Missy.
She just wishes their parents were still here to hopefully see the case solved.
District Attorney Jim Wheeler says even if her remains are there, they could have deteriorated because the Sabine has flooded over time.
Still, Sheriff's deputies, Police, Texas Rangers, and Game Wardens are following up on the lead and diligently searching.