Shawn Patrick Reilly

Harold Maurice Hunter said he thought his friend William Reily was joking during the summer of 2006 when he said Shawn Patrick Reilly should "go away permanently." Several weeks later, on a hot July 4th, a passerby found Shawn's decomposing remains in a rural part of Bastrop County Texas. After weeks of exposure to harsh south Texas elements, the remains found consisted of bones. Investigators were not certain of the identity of the remains or the cause of death.

In August of the same year, the Austin Police Department received a tip and passed it along to Bastrop County Investigators. The tipster indicated that Maurice Hunter, William Reily, his nephew James Reily and James Bonee had killed Shawn and that the unidentified body found in Bastrop County belonged to Shawn.

After receiving the tip, the Bastrop County Sheriff's office located members of Shawn's family and had them submit DNA reference samples to the UNT Center for Human Identification early in September of 2005. A week later, a bone sample was submitted to the Center by the Travis County Medical Examiner's office.

Over the next few months, DNA testing was performed by the Center's forensic DNA analysts. Then, in March of 2006, a positive match was made and the two submitting agencies were immediately notified. As a result of the identification, all four suspects were charged with murder. Forensic analysts from the Center were called to the subsequent trial and provided expert testimony that helped lead to the conviction and lengthy sentences of all four suspects.

The following are excerpts from a letter sent by Melody Reilly, Shawn's sister, to George Adams, the Center's Program Coordinator:

I just want to tell you how much your office's work means to me, my sisters, our husbands, children, and extended family. Also on behalf of our parents, who are no longer here; but I am sure they appreciate your efforts, as well.

My sister Michelle and I were in court during the trial last week, and it was so comforting to see the people who worked so hard to identify my brother's remains.

I didn't realize how much work and time it takes to identify someone, and I am now happy that your office took every day and every minute they needed to get it done properly.

Please pass my thoughts on to those involved and let them know their work is important and invaluable. I am attaching a photo of Shawn so maybe you and they can have a nicer image of him.

These four violent criminals are now off of the streets and as a result of their convictions and incarceration, the public is safer. The State of Texas and the family of Shawn Patrick Reilly is also now able to hold these men accountable for his violent death.