Authorities Keeping Open Mind; Family Hopes For Long Awaited Answers - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

3/18/2008-East Texas

Authorities Keeping Open Mind; Family Hopes For Long Awaited Answers

New tips are coming in. Possible leads into an East Texas cold case. 30 year old Joseph Wayne Burnette of Longview, is a person of interest in the disappearance of a woman whose burned body was found October of 2006.

The woman has not yet been identified. Burnette is already in prison, serving 10 years for failing to register as a sex offender in Gregg and Upshur counties. Authorities are now looking into whether Burnette could be linked to any other missing East Texas women. That's giving a glimmer of hope to the family of one East Texas woman, missing for almost two years. In a KLTV 7 exclusive, they share their take on these new revelations. 

It's a constant nightmare for Ellen Tant. The thoughts of what could have happened to her daughter, Brandi Wells.

"The longer times go by hope get's diminished a little more," said Ellen, "Where are you baby? What happened to you? That is the quiestion I wake up every morning and go to bed with every night."

Brandi went missing from a Longview night club August 2nd 2006.

"I have thought from the beginning she is out there somewhere in Longview just waiting to be found," said Ellen.

With authorities keeping an open mind about Joseph Burnette, Ellen can't help but think the burned woman whose body was found, went missing around the same time as Brandi, and she says they both have striking physical similarities. 

"The speculation, the circumstances that he could have had something to do with it. On the flip side he may not have had anything to do with it and we are back to square one. But this is really the biggest thing that has made me think there might be some end to it. I have been going for a year and eight months with nothing to go by and now having this as a possiblity. I can at least send my mind down this avenue right now," said Ellen.

The question "what if," still nagging at her.

"What if he did the same thing to Brandi's body that he did to this girl's. It just makes me sick that this young girl has not been identified. That nobody has come forth to claim her," cried Ellen, "I could not imagine my daughter laying somewhere and not being able to say that's my child what happened to her. They've got a body they can recover, I don't. That's one of the worst things."

It's all still speculation, a far cry from a conclusion, but for Ellen it's still a small glimmer of hope.

"She didn't deserve to have anything like this to have happened to her. Nobody does," said Ellen ,"If we can't pin it on him or there is no evidence to link him to her. If I could just find her that would be enough for me."

That hope, Ellen says keeps her continuing on. Praying that she can get answers to this chapter of her nightmare.

We did speak to the Longview Police Department who is handling Brandi Wells dissapearance case. They said it is an open investigation and wouldn't comment.

Danielle Capper, Reporting.


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