Shreveport police have identified the body of the man pulled from Cross Lake over the weekend, who is now believed to be the victim in an East Texas homicide investigation.
Police say fingerprints have confirmed that the body is that of 54-year-old Marion Lee Brown of Weatherford, TX.
Smith County investigators believe it was parts of his body that were found charred and rolled up in a piece of carpet last Friday morning along County Road 371. That afternoon, a burned-out 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser was recovered about 17 miles away off Lavender Road, north of Interstate 20. It's believed to have belonged to the victim, now identified as Brown.
Smith County officials say their investigators first contacted Shreveport police on Sunday, after hearing about the body that was pulled from Cross Lake on Saturday. They say they were told at that point that the victim apparently died after being struck with a boat propeller.
Shreveport police did note on Saturday that the body of the man pulled from the lake did not appear to have been in the water long and suffered no other obvious signs of trauma except to the head.
Smith County investigators have not revealed exactly what the remains consisted of that were found on Friday, but they've estimated they amount to only about 5 percent of the whole body.
Smith County detectives say they contacted the Caddo Parish 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. Shreveport police say Brown's identity has been confirmed through a comparison of fingerprint data provided by the Smith County Sheriff's Office.
Investigators in East Texas believe Brown was killed in Fort Worth and dumped in Shreveport. The partial remains and burned out vehicle found in Smith County are believed to have been part of the clean-up from that homicide.
Brown never returned to his home or to work in Parker County, west of Fort Worth, following the discovery of the remains. He was also never reported missing.
Detectives from the Smith County Sheriff's Office went to the Parker County and Fort Worth area on 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.
"This investigation is going to require a concerted effort among multiple law enforcement jurisdictions working closely together to bring it to a successful conclusion," said Sheriff Smith.
Investigators believe they are looking for at least 2 people, because they say it appears the body may have been thrown off the I220 bridge. It was discovered near the bridge by boaters on Saturday morning.
Anyone who may might have spotted the victim's white and silver 2010 Ford FJ Cruiser, possibly filling up, anywhere between Fort Worth and Shreveportis asked to call the Smith County Sheriff's Office at (903) 566-6600.