Burned human remains found in Smith County and a body found in a Shreveport lake are those of a 53-year-old Parker County man, the Smith County sheriff said late Wednesday.
Sheriff Larry Smith identified the victim as Marion Lee Brown, who had lived near Weatherford.
Authorities say they believe that Brown, who worked in Fort Worth, may have been killed somewhere in Tarrant County just before the Memorial Day weekend. Law enforcement officers from Parker County, Fort Worth, Shreveport, the Texas Rangers and Smith County are investigating the slaying.
Detectives have not released any information on a motive in the killing or said how Brown was killed.
Brown was an executive with Hill Phoenix, a manufacturer of display cases and refrigeration systems.
Brad Roche, a spokesman for Hill Phoenix, said Brown had worked with the company for the five years and was vice-president/general manager of the company's walk-in cooler business.
Roche said Brown was well-respected.
“He was an exceptional colleague,” Roche said. “Everybody is shocked... It's a tough, tragic thing for everyone to get through.”
The coroner in Caddo Parish, La., had tentatively identified the victim’s face using a photograph forwarded by Smith County detectives Tuesday, but deputies used fingerprints to make a positive identification on Wednesday.
“That victim has not returned to his residence in Parker County, nor has he returned to work since this string of events occurred,” Sheriff Smith said in a news release Wednesday.
Evidence gathered in the investigation indicates that the man may have been killed in southeast Fort Worth or Tarrant County, although nothing conclusive has been determined, Smith County authorities said.
The Fort Worth Police Department’s homicide unit has been contacted. Detectives were asked to do “some peripheral work” but were given no information suggesting that the homicide happened in Fort Worth, a police official said.
A Tarrant County sheriff’s investigator said his fellow detectives have not been asked to participate in the case.
The remains were found Friday morning in Smith County in East Texas and Sunday in Cross Lake in Shreveport. Smith County is about 130 miles east of Fort Worth.
No suspects were in custody Thursday.
Sheriff Smith gave this account of the investigation:
At 7:07 a.m. Friday, the Sheriff’s Department got a 911 call about an object wrapped in smoldering carpet on County Road 371, just north of Farm Road 1252. A deputy found that the object was part of a body.
Evidence gathered at the scene helped detectives determine that the victim was likely a white man in his 50s.
“That scene was obviously one at which the perpetrators discarded evidence subsequent to cleaning up the original homicide scene,” Smith said. “Evidence was recovered from that scene which strongly indicates this original homicide occurred within a motel room or residential-type structure.”
Smith provided no other details about the evidence.
Later that same day, another caller told authorities that she saw an older model white sports utility vehicle near the scene of the burning carpet.
At 4:20 p.m., deputies and firefighters responded to a report of a burned vehicle in woods near Lavender Road, north of Interstate 20. Investigators later determined that the 2010 Toyota FJ Cruiser belonged to the victim. No human remains were found there.
Smith County detectives learned Saturday that a body was found in Cross Lake in Shreveport, though Louisiana authorities at first said the victim may have died after being struck by a boat propeller.
Detectives traveled to the victim’s Parker County home and the Fort Worth area for additional evidence. Parker County sheriff’s deputies and the Texas Rangers have searched the man’s home. It was not disclosed what evidence was obtained.
“There was no evidence of any criminal activity” at the house, Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said Wednesday.
Fowler said that deputies had no previous contact with the victim.
Smith said the victim had not been reported missing.
“Other electronic information is being utilized to track the path of the victim since last Thursday, the day prior to the homicide,” Smith said. “This investigation is going to require a concerted effort among multiple law enforcement jurisdictions working closely together to bring it to a successful conclusion.”
Staff writers Deanna Boyd and Bill Miller contributed to this report.