Bones from Jessica Cain search site being tested

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Investigators are in the process of testing human remains found buried in a southeast Houston field Friday.

After more than three weeks of digging on East Orem Drive, police unearthed several bones. Now they will have to figure out if the bones belong to 17-year-old Jessica Cain, who went missing about 20 years ago.

Daniel Westcott is the director of the forensic anthropology program at Texas State University.

"The first step is to do a biological profile, where you estimate the age, sex, ancestry and stature of the individual," Westcott said Monday. "A small sample is sent to the lab, and it's pulverized and ground up and the DNA is extracted."

Westcott said the bone marrow should still be intact, that scientists are sometimes able to identify bones that are thousands of years old.

"They'll go through and look for any evidence of trauma on the skeleton that might give an indication of death," Westcott said. "They'll be looking at other unique characteristics of the skeleton that might help with the identification."

A law enforcement source close to the investigation tells Eyewitness News they plan on expediting this case. They could begin digging at another location for another body as early as this week.

The Galveston County District Attorney said if the body is identified as Cain, he will work with the Harris County District Attorney's office to develop a prosecution strategy against William Reece.

Law enforcement sources tell abc13 that they will next turn their focus to a dig site is located in Brazoria County. All agencies involved had a meeting today and decided crews will not start digging there until next week. They will restore the East Orem field starting Wednesday and then will move resources over to the Brazoria location next week.
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