Authorities in Houston have approved spending up to $500,000 to search area landfills for the remains of a Texas A&M student whose ex-boyfriend confessed to killing her.
The request comes after angry complaints about the decision not to search for the remains of 19-year-old Tynesha Stewart, who disappeared last week.
Investigators say Timothy Wayne Shepherd, 27, confessed on Wednesday to strangling Stewart. Shepherd apparently was angry that Stewart had begun seeing someone else.
Officials first thought Shepherd had disposed of the body in a large commercial trash bin that had since been emptied. However, they now believe Stewart's body was dismembered, placed in various containers, and scattered in several trash bins.
Community activist Quannel X said Stewart's body was dismembered and left in several different dumpsters. Sheriff's officials had decided against searching a landfill for any of Stewart's remains, triggering anger from Stewart's family and friends.
Investigators reconsidered after several high-profile complaints from U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, State Representative Sylvester Turner and Quannel X.
Waste management will provide direction and expertise regarding the landfill search. EquuSearch will provide trained volunteers and equipment.
"We have a real chore ahead of us. We don't have a lot of guarantees, except we're going to do the best we can," said EquuSearch founder and director Tim Miller. "I was in a landfill in Aruba for three weeks and also up in Pennsylvania. It's not going to be an easy task, but we're hoping to bring some closure to this family."
Also Friday, Shepherd made a brief appearance in state district court wearing a yellow jail uniform, which is indicative of a suicide watch.
Defense attorney Chip Lewis said his first priority was to communicate to the Stewart family that the Shepherd family is praying for them.