Montgomery Co. cold case victim's sister thought brother was 'living his life' for the last 37 years

Wednesday, December 13, 2023
Cold case victim's sister thought he was 'living his life' since 1986
Clarence Wilson was the person whose body was found shot and submerged in Crater Lake, Texas, 37 years ago.

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- The body of a man pulled from Crater Lake in Montgomery County in 1986 has now been identified as Clarence Wilson.

Detectives say Wilson was shot twice, at least once in the head, and had cinderblocks tied to him to weigh him down in the water.

Wilson's identity was unknown for nearly four decades until new DNA tests revealed he had family living in California.

"We just assumed he was in Texas living his life, and all this time, he was dead," his sister Gwen Tranum said.

Montgomery County Det. Fadi Rizk was assigned the case in 2020.

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Rizk said Wilson's body was previously exhumed in 2015 for DNA. He said the DNA was entered into a national database and did not match anything at the time.

"I saw we were able to get DNA in this case prior, and I felt there was a good chance in this case, we were able to get more from Genealogy," Rizk said.

Rizk sent the DNA to Othram Lab in The Woodlands, where they identified a potential relative through Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy.

We just assumed he was in Texas living his life.
Gwen Tranum

Tranum said Rizk called her three months ago to ask about the cold case. Tranum agreed to send DNA, which investigators eventually matched to Wilson's.

"It's devastating knowing that he was dead for 37 years," Tranum said.

Tranum said Wilson went by the name Red because of his hair color.

Rizk said there were persons of interest, but they were previously ruled out.

"Now we have the name and his identity, we can start picking apart his life," he said.

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