GAINESVILLE, TX-Dozens of unsolved homicides are now back in the public eye posted on a new website launched by the Texas Department of Public Safety. The agency hopes the new site will encourage people to come forward with tips that could help close these cases. Some of them happened right here in Texoma.
The Texas Rangers' Unsolved Homicides webpage has over 60 cold cases posted dating back to 1978, three of those murders happened right here in Texoma. The Cooke County Sheriff tells us more about one of those cases he hopes the site can help close.
March 29th 1997, Shebaniah Dougherty--also known as Sarah--went missing in Cooke County.
"She went missing after work. The next morning her body was found south of town what we call is Cooper's Crossing in an old abandoned house. It had been burned down, she was found in the foundation of it."
Dougherty had been strangled.
Cooke County Sheriff, Terry Gilbert, was working at the constable's office at the time and said after years of investigating, Dougherty's case has gone cold.
"They exhausted all their avenues, there are some suspects but that case has gone cold also," he said.
"When a case turns cold and we don't have anymore evidence to go over, sometimes you kinda just have to reach a conclusion because you don't have enough evidence. And we hope by putting this out there to the public, there may be some new evidence come up in these cases."
Texas DPS Trooper, Mark Tackett, said that's why they launched the Texas Rangers' Unsolved Homicides webpage. Sixty-eight cold cases are posted, including Dougherty's, hoping to renew public interest.
"We're hoping to bring a new perspective to the cases. We're hoping to shine a new light on it and if the public can go on there and view some of the details from some of the cold cases, we're hoping somebody may be able to bring some new information," he said.
"The DPS website that has come online is a great help. The more eyes on it, the more people see it, it might jar someone's memory that they might see something or heard something down the line," said Gilbert.
Both Gilbert and Tackett said the site also shows that investigators are not giving up on murder victims.
"It's closure for the family. It's our jobs. Our job is to catch the bad guys," said Gilbert.
There are two other cold cases in our area: Jennifer Harris, who was found murdered in Fannin County and Brent Gutheinz, whose body was found in Grayson county.
If you have any information about these cases or Dougherty's case or any unsolved murders listed on the website, contact local law enforcement Or call DPS at 1-800-346-3243. Callers may remain anonymous.