At approximately 7:30 pm Thursday evening, the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office received a call that “human remains” had been found along a pipeline right of way located approximately 200 yards south of CR 332 and about a half mile East of Interstate 69 in North West Liberty County. Capt.. Don Neyland, from the Criminal Investigation Division, along with his Investigators and patrol division responded immediately to the scene and initiated a search of the area. Acting on the information provided by the two men who were riding four wheelers on the right of way area when they discovered the remains, Investigators quickly recovered a human skull and smaller remains of an unknown victim.
Due to darkness overtaking the scene, further searching was suspended until 9:am Friday morning. A task force of eleven Investigators and Deputies as well as the department’s crime scene unit returned and, once again, began searching the right of way as well as surrounding wooded areas for additional remains and/or evidence.
The search continued through Friday.
Saturday morning investigators were joined by at least thirty seasoned searchers from Texas Equusearch. Captain Ken DeFoor said they were needed as they could cover a lot more area.
While the scene search is continuing, the department is checking its own records of missing persons to see if there are any matching characteristics from prior cases. At a later date the recovered remains will be sent to a lab for forensic examination. Presently, the skull and few bones found held few clue. DeFoor said they had been out in the area for an extended period of time as the skull was already bleached from being out in the elements. There are no indications as to the sex, age or race of the skeletal remains.
Another thing slowing investigators down was the number of animal bones found in the woods and on the pipeline. These bones included the skeletal remains of a horse with the bridle still intact. The area is also used for target practice and many shell casings had been found.
Over the years several people have been reported missing within ten miles of the area. One of those was Dennis Rogers who went missing March 8, 2012 in the area of Plum Grove. Rogers called 911 and reported to the dispatcher that he had gone walking and became lost. His cell phone then went dead. With temperatures dropping that night searchers including the US Coast Guard responded to the area of the last cell phone signal. All that was found were some fresh footprints thought to be his. The search continued for almost a week without a clue.
Max Rhineburger, was reported missing February 15, 2012. At about 5 a.m. that day, Rhineburgers 39th birthday, Rhineburger walked into a Crosby gas station near his home and said he was being followed. An hour later he pulled up to a Cleveland gas station, saying he had no money, was out of gas and being “chased.” Around 7 a.m., sheriff’s deputies say his white Chevrolet hurtled into a house near the Trinity River Bridge off FM 787. The property owners rushed to check on the driver. There wasn’t one. The keys were still in the ignition.
On January 22, 2008, 19-year-old Rodney Stokley, was picked up by a friend to go to a birthday party at the Brookhollow Apartments in the 800 block of Charles Barker Road in Cleveland. He is listed through Texas DPS as a runaway.
According to Rodney’s friend, there was an argument between a couple at the party and Rodney said he was going to leave. Rodney started walking down FM 1010 and began making phone calls, then his cell phone went dead. Rodney has never been seen again.
Edwin Rogers, 62, a disabled trucker, hasn’t been seen since his Grand Cherokee jeep was discovered with his cellphone inside on the shoulder of Texas 321 less than a mile from the home he shared off and on with his estranged wife. After the vehicle didn’t move for six days and no one could locate him, he was reported missing on Jan. 6 2012.
Larry Baker, 54 was last seen in Cleveland, Texas on the evening of January 29th, 2010. He lived near the intersection of Plum Grove Road and CR 325. His sister whom lived on the same property was the last to see when she had brought him something to eat.
Even with unsolved cases of missing persons, there are murder cases still open in that area.
On April 14, 2005, 8-years tomorrow Carolina Tejeda came home to her Cleveland parents home at 100 Waco to bring them lunch. Inside she found her father Antonio Rodriguez, 80 and her mother Luz were both found dead in the home, bludgeoned to death. A $20,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for their death death remains unclaimed and Cleveland Police continue to investigate the case.