Skeletal remains found in Edcouch septic tank identified as missing woman

Editor’s note: This story has been updated throughout. 

Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra said Tuesday that skeletal remains found in a septic tank nearly two months ago have been identified as a missing woman.

Leona Marie Tollett Johnson, who was reported missing in 2004, was identified through DNA comparisons. Investigators believe Johnson was in her early twenties when she was stabbed to death with a sharp object.

Aristeo Garcia Cervantes, 40, of Edcouch recently confessed to killing a woman and hiding her body in a septic tank roughly 10 to 12 years ago, but said he didn’t remember the woman’s name. Cervantes remains at a state prison in Beeville, where he’s serving a 12-year sentence for stabbing his wife, according to Guerra.

Investigators say Johnson’s cause of death is consistent with Cervantes’ confession. An arrest warrant has been issued for Cervantes for murder, a first-degree felony.

According to a news release from the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office: 

The Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office continues to work with the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s office in order to make arrangements to charge Cervantes.

Investigation of the case began on July 26, when Cervantes’ daughter and her boyfriend found a woman’s boot in a septic tank near their home. 

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