Investigators say human remains found inside a South Texas septic tank have been identified as a 21-year-old woman reported missing in 2004.
The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday announced identification of Leona Johnson and a murder warrant for a man who owned the property near Edcouch.
Sheriff’s officials say 40-year-old Aristeo Cervantes Jr. is currently serving 12 years in a Texas prison for the 2015 stabbing of his wife at the same residence.
Deputies in July responded to a call from the current residents about a bone and a boot discovered in the septic tank while it was being serviced.
Sheriff’s officials say 40-year-old Aristeo Cervantes Jr. (pictured right) confessed to the murder during interrogation. Leona Johnson is pictured left
Authorities say that the remains were found at a residence located on Mile 4 W Road and Dallas Street in Hidalgo County.
County Sheriff Eddie Guerra told ABC affiliate KRGV that Johnson frequently disappeared from her residence and had a three-year-old son at the time she went missing.
‘When we first approached him. He believed right away that that was going to be his mother.’
DNA evidence was used to identify Johnson, who was fatally stabbed.
‘We collected DNA sample from him and sent in the bones, and had the comparison and came back as a positively identifying her as the victim,’ said Guerra.
Deputies were called to a residence after a call was placed about a bone and a boot found in the septic tank
Cervantes was first interviewed by police concerning Johnson’s disappearance in 2004, confessing that he murdered her following a dispute.
During a second interrogation, Cervantes correctly identified Johnson in a photo lineup.
Guerra told KRGV that Cervantes was close to getting away with murder.
‘Yes, he could have. However, you know putting the body in a septic tank and you know eventually septic tanks have to be serviced,’ the sheriff said.
‘Things do have to be serviced, 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.’
‘But if they had abandoned the house he could have easily gotten away with murder,’ said Guerra.’
According to police records, Johnson, suffering from a substance abuse problem, was lured into Cervantes’ car with drugs. After arriving at his home, Johnson was stabbed to death.
Online records Wednesday didn’t immediately provide details on the murder charge or an attorney to speak for Cervantes.