String Of Mysterious Disappearances, Deaths Has Small Texas County On Edge
“It seems odd that they all know each other and suddenly have fallen victim to foul play,” a private investigator says.
Multiple people died under suspicious circumstances in a Texas community, and some dispute law enforcement officials’ determination that the cases are unconnected.
According to the San Antonio Express-News, four people reportedly in the same social circle have gone missing around the Lakehills area in Bandera County since last April. Three of those have been found dead.
“All of the victims involved are engaged in meth and narcotics usage, and it seems odd that they all know each other and suddenly have fallen victim to foul play,” Dennis Fitzgerald, a retired private investigator who is working with some of the families of those who died, told the outlet. “It is a lot of people to come up missing in such a small community.”
In September, Tracey Bowers said people in the 25,000-resident Bandera County “are definitely on edge.”
“I know a lot of the other moms with teenage daughters, they don’t want to do anything by themselves,” Bowers explained to KSAT. “They’re scared.”
On April 21, 2022, Jordan Tompkins, 25, signed off a video call with her mother. The next day, Tompkins disappeared.
“There is a lot of speculation, and people have said things about what happened, but there is no proof,” Kristy Tompkins said about her still-missing daughter, noting rumors going around include a drug cartel trafficked the woman. “We are afraid of the worst possibility, but we are hopeful.”
On June 20, Brittany McMahon, 33, missed a court hearing, and her mother reported her missing. A police report obtained by the News-Express states a man found McMahon’s remains in a heavily wooded area on his property on July 7 after his dog came to him with a human skull. He then followed the dog and discovered “what appeared to be a human spinal cord, rope wrapped around a tree approximately 7 feet high and white sunglasses on the ground.”
Investigators believe a cotton clothesline — a portion of which was found around McMahon’s neck and another part in a tree — broke when McMahon hung herself. Her body landed on the ground and was disturbed by scavengers, the police report states.
An autopsy could not determine her cause or manner of death due to the advanced state of decomposition.
“Her family is discouraged that the case is closed and are concerned with the findings presented because they find it problematic that she committed suicide,” said the private investigator, Fitzgerald. “They think it should be investigated as foul play.”
Sean Duffy, a 56-year-old business owner, was reported missing on July 4. His burned body was found over a month later, on Aug. 18, wrapped in a blanket in tall grass on the side of a road. According to a police report, officers found drug paraphernalia at the murder victim’s home as well as evidence that indicated he may have been shot there.
On Aug. 12, Norma Espinoza, a 63-year-old disabled woman, was reported missing. Her body was located on Sept. 6 in tall grass a few hundred feet from her home.
The Bandera County spokesperson said the medical examiner found no evidence that pointed to foul play, and the manner of Espinoza’s death was listed as undetermined.
Espinoza used a cane and had a difficult time getting around. “She can walk, but she would start hurting, so she just stays at home,” Bianca Luna said, noting her mother wouldn’t have “just went walking” around outside her home.
The Express-News reported Espinoza struggled with addiction following the death of her son, and Luna called her mother’s life “chaotic and painful.”
“I’m not going to stay quiet about this,” she said about trying to find out what happened to Espinoza. “My mom was my whole world, and I am going to try my best to help her.”
Bandera County spokesperson Matt King said despite the drug connection, investigators have uncovered no evidence proving the cases are related, the Express-News reported.
“They all went missing at different times under different circumstances, and not all of the cases had any criminal activity involved,” King said. “It is very weird, and we looked to see if they are all linked, but there is just no evidence to suggest that.”
Fitzgerald, however, claimed it seems as if the sheriff’s office isn’t “concerned about who they perceive as the lesser people of this community.”
“If the victims were people from a gated community, they would be doing something about it,” he alleged. “Sadly, I think if we don’t find out who is doing this, we will see it happen again. These four are entitled to justice just as much as anyone else.”