SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - Authorities have released additional information about human remains and a burned vehicle that were found in northeast Smith County on Friday.
The remains were discovered in a burning rug at around 7 a.m. on Friday on County Road 371. The sheriff says a potential victim was identified as detectives sifted through burned debris at the County Road 371 location last Friday morning. Then around 4:20 p.m. that day,
, which was believed to belong to the victim.
Smith County detectives learned on Sunday morning
. Smith County detectives contacted Shreveport authorities and at first were told the victim apparently died after being struck with a boat propeller.
The vehicle, a 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser, was found Friday afternoon near Lavender Road, just north of Interstate 20 near Tyler State Park. Sheriff Larry Smith says the Red Springs Volunteer Fire Department discovered the vehicle while responding to a fire. The vehicle was fully engulfed in flames when Sheriff Smith arrived. Authorities at the scene say no human remains were found inside the burned vehicle.
Smith County detectives contacted the Caddo Parrish Coroner’s Office again on Tuesday and forwarded a photograph of the potential victim in the Smith County investigation. The coroner made a tentative identification by facial recognition alone. However, no positive identification has been made at this time. Authorities are now using dental records and DNA to try to establish a positive identification.
The potential victim has not returned to his home in Parker County, west of Fort Worth, nor has he returned to work since this string of events occurred. Detectives from the Smith County Sheriff’s Office traveled to the Parker County and Fort Worth area this past Friday and again Tuesday trying to uncover additional evidence to help the investigation. A search of the victim’s residence in Parker County was also conducted by the Parker County Sheriff’s Office as well as Texas Rangers who were in constant contact with Smith County detectives.
In a press conference on Friday, Smith County Sheriff Smith reported that he believed there to be at least three separate crime scenes. Based on evidence found at the initial scene on County Road 371, the sheriff says that scene was where the perpetrators discarded valuable evidence after cleaning up the original homicide scene. The sheriff added that evidence recovered from that scene strongly indicates this original homicide happened within a motel room or residential-type structure.
The sheriff says other electronic information is being utilized to track the path of the victim since last Thursday, the day prior to the homicide. The Smith County Sheriff’s Office requested assistance from the Texas Rangers on Friday because of the numerous jurisdictions involved.
Before the remains were found on County Road 371 this past Friday, the sheriff said authorities didn't know a homicide had occurred. Sheriff Smith credits the painstaking crime scene processing of that charred scene by the Smith County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Unit as well as numerous detectives with the progress made in the investigation.
"There was little information to work with at that scene, however, due to the tedious and meticulous processing of that scene a potential victim was identified which allowed detectives to take the next steps in the investigation," said Sheriff Smith.
The information also allowed detectives to link that crime scene with the scene approximately twelve hours later where the burning vehicle belonging to the victim was recovered off Lavender Road north of Interstate 20.
Sheriff Smith stated, “This investigation is going to require a concerted effort among multiple law enforcement jurisdictions working closely together to bring it to a successful conclusion.”
Anyone with information that may be beneficial to this investigation is asked to call the Smith County Sheriff’s Office at (903) 566-6600 and provide their contact number as well as the information.