The gruesome discoveries were made 150 miles apart, but investigators in Texas and Louisiana believe that the severed heads of two women found over the past two months may be linked.
The Houston Police Department reported that marine patrol officers were flagged down the morning of March 24 by volunteers who had been picking up trash alongside FM 1960 near Lake Houston, adjacent to the Lake Houston Marina. The volunteers told the officers they were working in a rocky area of the lake when they found a suspicious black trash bag.
When the officers looked inside the bag, they saw what appeared to be human hair, police officials said. Homicide detectives were called out and they confirmed that the bag contained a badly decomposed human head.
The head, which has not been identified, was that of a white or Hispanic woman with auburn hair and good teeth, according to the Houston Chronicle. The Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences further found that she was between 25 and 40 years old and had eyebrows and eyelashes that were either permanently or semi-permanently tattooed.
Her hair had three or four inches of dark brown roots coming in, the Chronicle reported.
Investigators working on the case learned that another woman’s severed head was found March 1 in Cameron Parish, Louisiana, the newspaper said. KLFY in Lafayette reported that an inmate work crew found the head in a plastic grocery bag along La. 27 near Hackberry, a couple of miles north of the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge.
Investigators searched the surrounding marsh and canal, but found no other body parts, the news station reported. The marsh is a tributary of Calcasieu Lake, which is less than a mile from where the head was found.
Like in the Texas case, the remains were badly decomposed.
The mutilated woman in Louisiana, like Houston’s “Jane Doe,” had auburn hair and was in the same age range. She also had well-maintained teeth.
“The victim has had extensive dental work done,” Cameron Parish Sheriff Ron Johnson told KLFY. “There is no apparent trauma to the skull.”
Johnson told KPLC in Lake Charles that the case remains with the Calcasieu Parish Coroner’s Office, which is assisting in the case.
“They had chased down about five leads, I believe, but none of them proved any connection. They disproved the leads they had, “Johnson said. “And now the head is (at the Louisiana State University forensic lab) in Baton Rouge and they’re working hard to reconstruct that head.”
Cameron Parish and Houston investigators are working together on the cases in the hopes of identifying the women.
“Once we do get a lead on who their person is and who our person is, that will help us to see if we can tie these two together or not,” Johnson told the news station.
Houston investigators have identified a potential person of interest in the case.
Witnesses saw a man throwing a plastic bag off a bridge near the spot where the Houston victim’s head was found, the Chronicle reported.
According to police officials, the man was described as in his early to mid-20s, with short dark brown hair and long bangs that hung across his face. He was about 5 feet 4 inches tall to 5 feet 8 inches tall, with light skin.
He was wearing a gray and black plaid shirt and was driving a teal or blue-green Chevy Silverado extended cab pickup truck. The rear left passenger window was broken and had cardboard covering it.
The truck was beaten up and had several rust spots, authorities said.