Authorities said they have identified the body discovered about a week ago in Guadalupe County as that of a teen who was reported missing from Vanderbilt, Texas, in October.
Three people are in custody in connection to the 16-year-old’s disappearance, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Craig Kirkpatrick said.
“We got three individuals in custody for aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault in connection with this case, two adults and one juvenile,” he said.
The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office used dental records to positively identify Benjamin “Tank” Loera of Vanderbilt, Kirkpatrick said. Vanderbilt is a town about 30 miles southeast of Victoria.
Loera’s death was ruled a homicide, Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Javier Luna said. The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Rangers have investigated Loera’s disappearance since Oct. 26, the lieutenant said.
Detained in connection with the case are Kyle Rector, 19; 23-year-old Casey Jenschke; and a 15-year-old juvenile. All are residents of Jackson County, Kirkpatrick said.
All are suspected of being involved in Loera’s late October disappearance, he said.
“Our department along with the Texas Rangers service has been investigating it since day one,” Kirkpatrick said. “I can’t get into a lot of details.”
The case remains under investigation, he said.
A man surveying land he intended to buy stumbled upon Loera’s severely decomposing body Dec. 20 in a brushy area off of FM 1117 near the Guadalupe River bridge. The man called 911 and sparked an investigation into the discovery.
Amid their preliminary investigation, Guadalupe County sheriff’s deputies were unable to identify the gender or ethnicity of the body, Luna said. It had no hair or easily discernible distinguishing features, he added at the scene.
“It’s bones,” Luna said. “It’s literally bones.”
Officials ordered an autopsy and Texas Rangers notified Guadalupe County sheriff’s deputies on Monday of the identity confirmation, Luna said.
Additional charges are expected in the coming days, he said.