A body was recovered from Inks Lake Thursday afternoon, …
Updated: Tuesday, 14 Jul 2009, 6:34 PM CDT
Published : Tuesday, 14 Jul 2009, 5:53 PM CDT
LLANO COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) - The discovery of a body in Inks Lake is bringing new hope to solving an old, missing-persons mystery.
Amateur divers discovered the body last week submerged in a weighted down boat beneath the old Highway 29 bridge. Immediately, talk stirred of one of the few murder convictions in Texas that ever came without finding a body.
The skeletal remains pulled from these waters left Llano County authorities with a fresh mysteryÂ… that might have a link to a crime some still wonder even happened.
"For years, it was empty, and we always called it the ghost house," said Polly Gifford.
Art and Polly Gifford live 15 minutes from last week's crime sceneÂ… but next door to something that has troubled them for eight years.
"It was hard going to the trial and watching him and seeing his family torn apart," said Polly.
The man who built the Kingsland home next to the Giffords now serves a 20-year prison sentence for murdering his mother-in-law. Shirley Cowan, 60, commissioned Thomas Negri to complete the house in 2001. The Giffords watched his trial years laterÂ… learning about Cowan's blood found next door.
"He told everybody," said Art. "He told his family and us and everybody else that, 'Oh, she's just on a vacation. She's going to show up.' And I hoped she showed up."
When crews revealed the discovery at Inks Lake, the Giffords waited for answers.
"It appeared to me that the body was submerged in the water inside that boat intended as its final resting place," said John Neff, the Llano County Chief Deputy Chief.
The Llano County Sheriff's Office had little to say about this much-talked-about case.
"We're looking into all possibilities of individuals from Llano County," said Neff. "I can't comment on [whether or not she's one of the cases we're looking into]."
The state shows a total of nine active missing persons cases in Llano and neighboring Burnet Counties. Giving up on Cowan ever coming back from that vacation, the Giffords hope the find is in fact the neighbor they never really knew.
"I think the family needs some kind of closure, and eventually I think she will surface," said Polly.
The autopsy on those skeletal remains is complete, but it could still be weeks before authorities can determine an identity or if the bones belong to a man or a woman.
In the meantime, the Llano County Sheriff's Office urge anyone with information about missing persons, including Shirley Cowan, to call them.