By DELANIA TRIGG, Register Staff Writer
Texas law enforcement investigators are reevaluating dozens of cases thanks in part to the Texas Rangers Unsolved Homicides web page — a database which profiles unsolved murders committed in the Lone Star state.
The website launched earlier this year and contains photos and brief narratives on crime victims.
At least one Cooke County case has been profiled on the site, Cooke County Sheriff Terry Gilbert said, noting the agency’s database includes the March 1997 homicide of Shebaniah “Sarah” Doughtery — a 20-year-old Cooke County woman who was murdered after her shift at a Gainesville video and flower shop.
Gilbert said the Doughtery case began as a missing person investigation.
“Sarah disappeared March 29, 1997 and her body was discovered on March 31, 1997 south of Gainesville on extreme South Weaver Street,” Gilbert said. “She was found inside a foundation where a house used to sit.”
Gilbert said Doughtery’s car was found March 29 about two blocks from the store where she was last seen. She died by strangulation.
Over the past 16 years, investigators have exhausted “all their avenues,” Gilbert said in a story published on KXII’s website in February. “There are some suspects but that case has gone cold....”
Any information on Doughtery’s death would be welcome, he added.
Gilbert said in addition to Doughtery’s murder his office is also continuing its probe into the unexplained death of 50-year-old Eddie Ball.
Ball’s family reported him missing on Aug. 15, 2010.
A hunter found Ball’s car Dec. 5, 2011 near the Dexter community in rural Cooke County.
“The Gainesville Police Department was contacted because they took the original missing person report,” Gilbert said. “The sheriff’s department and the police department went out and did a search of the area and found skeletal remains that were later identified as Ball’s.”
Gilbert said the condition of the remains made establishing a cause of death impossible.
“I can’t tell you it’s a homicide,” Gilbert said, “I can tell you it’s an unknown cause of death and we’re looking for people who want to step up and talk to us about it. If it is homicide, it’s probably somebody he knew.”
Both the Doughtery case and the Ball case are joint investigations of the Gainesville Police Department and the Cooke County Sheriff’s Department.
Gilbert said he wants the public to know investigators haven’t giving up on these and other unresolved cases.
“We want to give the families some closure,” he said. “If anyone wants to talk to us, we’d like to hear from them.”
To report information on these or other unsolved Cooke County cases call the Cooke County Sheriff’s Department at (940) 665-3471.
To read more about the cases profiled on the Texas Rangers Unsolved Homicides website visit www.txdps.state.tx.us/TexasRangers/UnsolvedHomicides/index.htm.