A body found near the Guadalupe River in Texas on Dec. 20 has been identified as that of a 16-year-old boy who vanished two months ago, authorities say.
According to a release from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, the remains of Benjamin “Tank” Loera, who vanished from Vanderbilt, Texas, on Oct. 26, were found in a brushy area near the river on Dec. 20. His body was badly decomposed, but dental records recently identified him.
His death has been ruled a homicide, but his cause of death has not been released.
Three persons of interest are in custody on charges of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault, though authorities have not identified the suspects. Additional charges are expected, according to the Guadalupe County Sheriff’s Office, which is also involved in the investigation.
In a previous release, Jackson County authorities said that “investigators have found that this was a planned criminal episode and not a random act of violence.”
Loera’s mother, Jessica McKinney, told the Victoria Advocate that on Oct. 26, Loera left the house to go play video games. She reported him missing the next day when she couldn’t reach him by phone or text.
“My gut says he is not OK,” she told the outlet at the time. “He wouldn’t just not answer the phone. He will pick up and tell me he can’t talk, but never just not answer.”
McKinney described her son to the Advocate as a fun-loving teen who got the nickname “Tank” from his prowess on the football field, saying it would take “a dogpile of six football players to bring him down.”
She told the outlet he helped care for his twin sisters, who have autism.
“It has been really hard on them,” she told the outlet. “He always made them feel like they could do anything.”