(PADRE ISLAND, TX.) — Two bodies found buried in a shallow grave along a Texas beach last week have been identified as a New Hampshire couple that had been missing since Oct. 16.
The bodies of James Butler, 48, and Michelle Butler, 46, were found last Monday on a remote part of Padre Island, Kleberg County Deputy Sheriff Jaime Garza said in an interview with ABC News.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family and friends of the Butler’s on the tragic loss of their loved ones,” the sheriff’s office said in a press release.
Their deaths are being treated as a homicide, but the sheriff’s office has not listed any suspects in the case. The couple’s RV and truck are still missing.
Garza said a deputy with the department was investing the GPS location of a last-known ping from one of the victim’s cellphones on the island on Oct. 26 when he noticed something unusual on the side of the dune — a bra covered in sand. Upon further investigation, they discovered a woman’s body.
The next day, authorities cordoned off the area so they could “painstakingly” excavate the scene, so no evidence was destroyed. It was during the excavation that “all of a sudden digging a little bit further down, there was another set of legs and we found the second body,” Garza told ABC News.
Garza said it took several days to identify the bodies because they had no identification and had badly decomposed. The sheriff’s office on Friday notified the Butlers’ family members their bodies had been found.
The couple was reported missing on Oct. 23 after family and friends lost contact with them. Law enforcement officials said their last known contact was with a friend on Oct. 16.
At this time, there is no publicly known motive, persons of interest or suspects.
Kleberg County Sheriff Richard Kirkpatrick is scheduled to hold a press conference Monday morning to provide additional updates.
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