Bones Found in Septic Tank Identified as Woman who Disappeared 13 years Ago

NTD Newsroom
By NTD Newsroom
September 28, 2017US News
Bones Found in Septic Tank Identified as Woman who Disappeared 13 years Ago
Leona Johnson. (Facebook/Hidalgo County Sheriff's Office)

The remains of a woman who went missing 13 years ago have been found in a septic tank in Texas.

The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office said they got a call on July 26 about a bone and a boot found in a septic tank that was being serviced on Dallas St. in rural Edcouch, Texas.

The sheriff’s office searched the property, and identified 40-year-old Aristeo Cervantes Jr., who is serving a 12 year sentence in a Texas prison for stabbing his wife at the same residence in 2015, as the property owner.

During questioning, Cervantes Jr. confessed to murdering a female and placing her body in the septic tank of his home 10 to 12 years ago, the sheriff’s office said in a press release.

An autopsy on the remains found in the septic tank put the cause of death as homicide by stabbing with a sharp object, “injuries consistent with Cervantes’ confession,” the sheriff’s office said.

Investigators identified the bones as belonging to Leona Johnson, a mother in her early 20’s who went missing in 2004.

Leona Johnson. (Facebook/Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office)

Johnson had a history of substance abuse at the time of her disappearance, and Cervantes Jr. lured her into his car with drugs before taking her to his home and stabbing her to death, ABC affiliate KRGV reported.

Johnson also had a history of running away from home as a teen, but the last time she went missing, her family knew it was different, said Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra, according to KRGV.

Investigators took DNA from her son, who was 3 years old at the time of her disappearance, and used it to positively match the bones to Johnson, the missing link in the investigation that was needed to prosecute Cervantes Jr. for her death.

“You know eventually septic tanks have to be serviced,” Guerra, said, according to KRGV. “So I’m sure that he had that in the back of his mind, all this time, that it’s just a matter of when that tank was going to get serviced that he would be discovered.”

He added that if Cervantes Jr. wasn’t the property owner, they might not have known who did it.

“If they had abandoned the house, he could have easily gotten away with murder,” he said.

An arrest warrant was issued for Cervantes Jr., who is still in prison in Texas on previous charges.

As of Sept. 26, the sheriff’s office was working with the county’s district attorney on charges for Cervantes Jr.

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