Three friends were working on the inside of a former dog-grooming business they’d purchased when one stumbled upon something hidden above the ceiling tiles.
“He was pushing on it and and it seemed a lot heavier than all the other tiles,” one of the owners recalled about the discovery made in the summer of 2015.
His colleague hit the tile with a shovel and a black trash bag came crashing to the ground. Inside, they found a reciprocating saw and a bag of extra blades.
“It was a head scratcher,” another of the owners remarked. “What is this saw doing above the ceiling grid in a trash bag? ...We were joking, calling it the murder saw.”
Turns out, their jesting was not far from the truth.
In a bizarre twist that surfaced as the final trial in Bryan Childers’ murder case was underway, homicide investigators say they believe the saw found above the ceiling was used to dismember Childers’ body in April 2014.
Fort Worth police are now awaiting DNA tests to determine if the saw may have been used in the dismemberment of others who may still be missing.
“Rumors were that this wasn’t the first time they had dismembered a body at that location,” said Sgt. W.D. Paine, who served as lead homicide investigator in the Childers case.
The new business owners would not realize the potential significance of their find until this spring, when a false-alarm call brought two Hurst officers to their building. The officers mentioned that the building had been connected to a murder case and asked the owners if they’d found anything suspicious inside.
The new owners showed the officers the saw they’d found the previous summer, which they’d since been using in renovations.
“She’s like, ‘I don’t know at this point how good of evidence it would be because y’all have been using it,’” the second owner said. “They just left it.”
But the Hurst officers did contact Homeland Security about the saw, which in turn, alerted Fort Worth police. That message, however, never reached investigators.
Four months later, while reading a Star-Telegram story about the ongoing trial of Justin Hunsaker, an Aryan Brotherhood member who was convicted of engaging in organized criminal activity/murder in the Childers case, one of the Hurst officers contacted Homeland Security again in October to see if anybody had ever checked out the saw.
Homeland Security contacted Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney Allenna Bangs, who along with Bill Vasser was in the midst of prosecuting Hunsaker. Bangs notified Paine, who soon went with Fort Worth crime scene officer Tim Lee to the Hurst business to retrieve the saw.
Paine said while no blood was visible on the outside, he asked Lee to dismantle the saw to check for blood inside it.
“Yes, they cleaned up on the outside of it but unless they took it apart, they didn’t get any of the blood that goes up into the housing,” Paine said.
Lee later took the saw apart and sprayed the tool’s interior with BlueStar — a chemical that illuminates blood not visible to the naked eye.
“It lit up like a Christmas tree,” Bangs said.