Texas authorities have uncovered the possible remains of a 15-year-old girl who was missing for 25 years, after they family of a suspect in her death came forward with a tip, sheriff’s officials said Wednesday.
The suspect’s 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, count officials said at a news conference.
Diaz disappeared in 1990 from a general store in Danevang and the property where the remains were found is not far from that unincorporated rural community. A ring found near the site resembles the one given in 1990 to the teen for her quinceanera, a coming-of-age celebration for Latinas. Forensic tests will be conducted to confirm the remains are Diaz.
The Houston Chronicle reports Diaz called her mother to say she was locking up for the night and would be home soon. Shortly after the phone call, a couple came upon the store and found it unattended, with Diaz’s car still in the parking lot and the TV still on behind the counter.
The store didn’t have any security cameras and the case went cold even after Diaz’s case was featured on the television show “America’s Most Wanted,” the Chronicle said.
The suspect in the Diaz’s death died months ago and authorities have not released the person’s identity. He was in his 20s at the time of Diaz’s abduction from the store, according to the Chronicle. Sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Grosser said robbery didn’t appear to be a motive and that the crime appears to be one of opportunity. Grosser also said the suspect had no connection to Diaz.
It’s unclear whether the man was 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."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.