Sheriff's officials say human remains found in a rural area southwest of Houston Tuesday are believed to be those of a 15-year-old girl who has been missing for 25 years.
Wharton County sheriff's Sgt. Scott Grosser told KTRK-TV in Houston that new information led authorities to excavate on private land, leading to the discovery of remains believed to be those of Rosemary Diaz.
"The main thing is closure for the Diaz family," Grosser said at a news conference Wednesday morning, according to the Houston Chronicle. "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."
Grosser says physical evidence indicates the remains belong to Diaz. A family member told KTRK that a ring was found that Diaz is believed to have worn.
While a forensic team with the Texas Rangers is still trying to confirm that the body is that of Diaz, but Tim Miller of the Equusearch recovery team said the presence of the gold amethyst ring is proof enough for the family.
"At that moment, we knew it was the ring, and we all cried," Miller said.
The girl went missing in 1990 from a general store where she worked in a small community south of El Campo, about 70 miles from Houston.
The main suspect in the case is a family member who died a few months ago. The man had made "partial confessions" to various family members through the years, and following his death family members began talking and piecing together the 25-year-old crime.
"They weren't sure what they knew," Grosser said. "No one person had the full story."
The suspect was believed to be in his late 40s or early 50s at the time of his death, which was possibly due to illness, but officials would not release the man’s identity nor that of his family as the investigation is ongoing.
The girl's body was found on a 60-acre property about 65 miles southwest of Houston in an area overgrown by trees and brush. Investigators said they got lucky to come across the body.
"We all made a goal two weeks ago that, we've got a lot of work ahead of us, but we're going to bring her home by Christmas," Miller said. "God had other plans: We got her home by Thanksgiving."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.