Bayou bodies: 7 new bodies found floating in water since late December

By Cathy Tatom - Investigative Producer, Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - Bayous can be beautiful and sometimes serene-looking bodies of water gliding though rural, suburban and urban neighborhoods all around us.

But, in Houston-area bayous, you can also come across the most gruesome discoveries.

Last fall, Channel 2 Investigates uncovered how many dead people had been pulled from bayous in the past few years. We mapped at least 40 cases going back to 2015. Since our story aired, more bodies have been found and we've added them to our map.

The medical examiner is able to identify most, but not all, bodies pulled from the bayous. Water can take a terrible toll on a body's condition.

"Just the decomposition itself and then there's a lot of animal life here, too, that can munch on things," Houston Police Department Dive Team Sgt. Edward Godwin said.

The dive team is one of the agencies that may get the call when a body is discovered in water and needs to be recovered.

PHOTOS: Deaths in Houston bayous

Godwin told KPRC2, "We do about 14 to 16 recoveries a year. Eight or nine are actually out of the bayous."

KPRC2

Denise Oshawzale

The day after Christmas 2018, the team pulled 37-year old Denise Oshawzale's body from the Sims Bayou where it runs along Milby Park. She was discovered by a man walking his dog. He spotted something in the water that he thought looked suspicious and called 911.

According to her mother-in-law, Gloria Grigsby, Oshawzale was homeless. She was also a mother of two whose life was spiraling out of control.

"After she lost her two babies with CPS (Child Protective Services), it was like she couldn't keep a bottle out of her hand," Grigsby said.

Police said it appears someone stabbed Oshawzale and then dumped her body in the bayou. Police are investigating her death as a murder and still looking for her killer.

Oshawzale is one of seven people pulled from bayous since our first story aired in November. The causes of death for the others include at least one suicide, three likely accidental deaths and one in which the cause is still unknown. Police said accidents, not murder, account for most bodies in the bayou. The accidents include such things as going after a snagged fishing line, making a bad decision to try to swim across a bayou or falling in while intoxicated.

Police told Channel 2 Investigates that Georgia resident Chris Snellings apparently slipped and fell into Buffalo Bayou. He worked as a contractor in Houston. He was last seen stepping out of his downtown hotel for a smoke. His body was found in Buffalo Bayou several days later when police were looking for the body of a fleeing burglary suspect who had jumped into the water to get away.

In January, 35-year-old Lily Doan's badly decomposed body was discovered in Buffalo Bayou near 75th Street. The cause of her death is still under investigation.

On Feb. 4, Houston police said they found a body in Greens Bayou that they think is the body of a man who jumped in the bayou while running from police in January. The body was found near 13000 Market Street. There were no obvious signs of foul play, police said.

On Jan. 23, a man police were chasing jumped into Greens Bayou. According to a tweet by Houston police, the incident began about 10:25 a.m. that day as a trespassing call. Police said the man was being pursued by officers from the Northeast Division when he jumped into the bayou near the East Freeway and Market Street. The dive team was called to the scene to search for the man, but he wasn't found until about 12 days later. His identity has not been revealed.

The most recent victim recovered is Adelaide Evergreen. Her body was recovered from Brays Bayou on March 17. Anyone with information on this case is urged to contact the Houston Police Department Homicide Division at 713-3008-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS (8477).

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