In March 2002, the remains of an unidentified individual were found at the Spring Creek Bridge off Kickapoo Road in Houston, Texas. Investigators responded to the scene and determined that the remains were those of a male between the ages of 17 and 32 years. The unidentified man was approximately 5’5” tall. He had black hair and was wearing a tan/black Dockers windbreaker, a black/tan checkered Nautica shirt, and Polo jeans with brown leather shoes at the time that his remains were discovered. The young man’s cause of death was due to a gunshot wound to the chest and the death was ruled a homicide.
Details of the case were entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) as UP615. The unidentified victim had three Gothic-style letters tattooed vertically on his left calf. The first two letters were “H” and “J”. The third letter was either a “D” or “G”. No other clues or identifying documents were available. With few leads to pursue, the man’s identity could not to be determined and the case eventually went cold.
In 2021, the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences submitted forensic evidence to Othram in The Woodlands, Texas. Othram scientists successfully developed a DNA extract from the evidence and then used Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing® to build a comprehensive DNA profile for the homicide victim. The casework completed at Othram was funded by the Roads to Justice (RTJ) program and we are grateful for the funding support in this case and previous cases. Othram's in-house forensic genetic genealogy team used the profile in a genetic genealogy search to develop investigative leads that were returned to law enforcement.
Empowered with these new investigative leads The Texas Rangers Unsolved Crimes Investigation Program, working with Harris County Sheriff's Office, continued the investigation and made contact with a potential family member. Through additional confirmation DNA testing, the identity of the murdered young man was confirmed as 16-year-old Hector Jose Garcia. Garcia was born November 18, 1985 in Hildago, Texas. He was reported missing in February 2002 when he did not return home after traveling with friends to nearby Galveston to celebrate Mardi Gras. Details of Hector’s missing person case were entered into NamUs as MP91439.
The case is ongoing with future announcements planned. We will provide more information about the case as law enforcement makes those details available.