LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - The human remains found outside the Chaparral Apartments Friday have been identified as Roger "Scott" Dunn.
24-year-old Dunn went missing May 31, 1991. He has a headstone placed at the City of Lubbock cemetery.
Dunn's parents released a statement saying after 21 years the truth has finally come out. They never wanted to accept his death, but now they say they are at peace knowing they can lay their son to rest in his empty grave.
Little did his family or police know, he was buried four doors down from where he was murdered.
"We commenced at that time for the recovery of the remains that were in a shallow type grave. The grave consisted of being approximately 4 by 8 feet," Lubbock County Medical Examiner Dr. Sridhar Natarajan said.
Natarajan says he and other medical examiners spent 10 hours recovering 90 percent of Dunn's bones. "So the evaluation that took place on Monday was a very detailed one." He said.
They found the remains partially wrapped in a blue vinyl type material.
"In addition," Natarajan said, "there was a comforter-type blanked that was present as well as a tattered and broken-down sheet."
Dunn's teeth and dental records were key in identifying him. And his skull helped figure out how he was killed.
"In the rebuilding of the skull we were able to identify traumatic injuries that were present and that it was a blunt trauma type of event," Natarajan said.
That matches what police said in 1991. Authorities found traces of Dunn's blood splattered all over the apartment on the 5800 block of 24th. Officials determined there was enough blood to say Dunn could not have survived.
Six years later, the Lubbock County District Attorney's office used the evidence from the apartment to convict two suspects. His roommate Leisha Hamilton and co-defendant Timothy James Smith were found guilty of his murder in 1997. This was the first case Lubbock County tried without a body.
Rusty Ladd was the chief prosecutor on the case. His wife tells KCBD it was the highlight of his career to bring justice to Dunn's family. "Rusty unfortunately is not with us today, but his wife is. One of the first calls I made was to Rusty's wife. It would be a proud moment for Rusty. Again it shows you the work of law enforcement and the prosecutors at the time that they were able to get two convictions without the actual body being present." Powell said.
Hamilton is locked up in the Murray Unit in Gatesville, Texas. She was first eligible for parole in 1999, and again in 2009. Both have been denied. Her next hearing is March 2013. The D.A. plans to object her early release.
"We haven't had any problems objecting to her parole in the past and we will continue to do that. She needs to serve every day she was given by the jury," said District Attorney Matt Powell.
"At this point we don't anticipate any additional charges," Lubbock Chief of Police Ellis said. "We'll still continue to do some follow up, naturally, on this case and look at information in the Dunn case that was prosecuted and make sure there are not any more loose ends we need to tie up."
But the question still remains, why was Scott Dunn's body never found? Police say Hamilton and Smith covered it up all too well.
"The suspects did a good job at concealing the body. We also depend on others to help of others. Over the period of 21 years we hope we are doing things better now than we did back then," said Ellis.
Powell explained, "I think the last place you would look or think they would bury a body was right there at the complex. The way that was set up, there were multiple fences where law enforcement really didn't have a right to be to search for a body."
Even though the relentless searches never came up with a body, police are happy to say this case is finally closed.
"I don't want to say it's a happy occasion," said Powell, "but I do think it brings closure to the Dunn family."
The family is expected to get the remains in the coming weeks. That's when they will finally have a proper burial for their son. Something they say words cannot describe.
James Dunn, Scott's father, released the following statement:
After 21 years of heartache the moment of truth has finally come for the Dunn family with the discovery of Scott Dunn's buried remains. Tremendous credit goes to all those who fought for justice and kept Scott in their prayers. Today those prayers have been answered and Scott can be laid to rest.
It appears now with certainty two people knew precisely where Scott's body was hidden and then lied to try and protect themselves. Their murder convictions give some justice for Scott and the family.
No matter what, all I ever wanted was to find Scott's remains, give him a proper burial and try to find some closure for the family. Now in time we hope to do just that.
Sue Dunn, Scott's mother, also released a statement:
All the years my boys were growing up in Dallas I could never go to sleep at night until they were both home and I knew they were safe. Scott's brother Tony and I have struggled to accept Scott's death over these past many years and the recovery of his remains is finally bringing us some peace of mind knowing that we will now be able to bring him to his final resting place. This means more to us than words could ever express.
I was never sure this day would come. but we were always so grateful to the entire Lubbock Police Department , especially Sgt. Tal English for always being there to answer all our questions and for never giving up on Scott's case. We also would like to thank Pam Alexander of the Lubbock Victims Assistance Services for following the case for so many years and for helping us through the most difficult situation a family can face.