Rosemary Diaz was just 15 when she vanished while working at a country store just a half-mile from her home in Texas' Wharton County on Nov. 24, 1990. Police were unable to solve her disappearance even after the case appeared on America's Most Wanted, but new evidence suggests the man responsible may not have kept quiet. Investigators say a now-deceased suspect made "partial confessions" to several relatives over the years. "They weren't sure what they knew," Sgt. Scott Grosser tells the Houston Chronicle. "No one person had the full story." But when the man died in July, relatives concluded he may have been responsible for Rosemary's disappearance and pointed authorities to a 60-acre family property where he used to hunt, about two miles from where Diaz was last seen, per the Chronicle. Authorities say remains were recovered from a shallow grave there on Tuesday, exactly 25 years after Rosemary disappeared.
The remains haven't been officially identified yet, but family members say an amethyst ring was also recovered and was worn by Rosemary on the night she disappeared. Authorities say the suspect was in his early 20s when he was believed to have abducted and killed the teen; they believe he had no connection to his alleged victim. "Exactly how did the abduction happen, there's no way to know," Grosser says, per KHOU. "The main thing is closure for the Diaz family," he adds, per the AP. "That's a family that has kept the memory of Rosemary alive for 25 years." A member of the recovery team says officials "made a goal two weeks ago" to "bring her home by Christmas. God had other plans: We got her home by Thanksgiving." "It hurts and I know I will never be able to hug her, to touch her or speak to her again," Rosemary's sister says. But "now the healing process can begin." (Police are still trying to solve this teen's death in 1980.)