HUEYTOWN, Ala. (AP) — Human remains found buried in a shallow grave in a backyard have been identified as Paighton Houston, an Alabama woman who texted she feared she was “in trouble” before disappearing last month, police said Friday.
The Trussville Police Department said in a statement that the discovered body was identified as Houston, 29. The police department said investigators recovered the body Friday in a shallow grave at the home in Hueytown, about 13 miles (20.9 kilometers) west of Birmingham.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Houston family as they begin the grieving process,” police said in the statement.
The Trussville woman was last seen Dec. 20 leaving a Birmingham bar with two men. Family members told news outlets that she later sent a text to a friend asking the person to answer if she called because she didn’t know who she was with and “I feel in trouble.”
Her family had posted social media pleas for information about their daughter since her disappearance. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey had issued a $5,000 reward in the case.
Lynneice Washington, district attorney for the Bessemer Cutoff District of Jefferson County, told news outlets Friday that police searched the area after receiving tips in the case. The woman’s body was found wrapped in cloth in a shallow grave in the backyard.
“It’s always hard whenever you find remains of a person because there are family members. … The only thing we can do at this point is to try to give them justice,” Washington said before the body was identified.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is taking the lead in the investigation, Chief Deputy David Agee told reporters.
”Right now, we have a lot more questions than answers, but we hope to have those answers soon,” Agee said.