Henry David Cossette, a 27-year-old Texas man, is accused of strangling and dismembering a teenager.
According to court documents first obtained by local outlets, Cossette was charged Monday with the murder of of 19-year-old Sara Goodwin, who went missing in Houston earlier this month. Her friends and loved ones had previously rallied the community to help investigate what happened. Many speculated that she was abducted.
Her alleged killer, meanwhile, was booked in a Harris County jail on Monday. He is being held on $200,000 bond until his next court appearance scheduled for Wednesday.
What Happened to Sara Goodwin?
According to her friends and loved ones, Goodwin was employed as a sex worker when she was last seen on Feb. 6.
Witnesses claimed that the 19-year-old was standing near the intersection of South Course Drive and Bissonnet Street in southwest Houston when an unidentified man “pulled her” into a white, 2015-2017 model Honda CRV. Goodwin’s phone was later recovered a few blocks from the scene.
Other bystanders claimed to see the same car return to the same intersection hours later, its driver allegedly trying to “lure in” two other young women. Some sex workers nearby said they’d seen the man in the vehicle brandishing a gun.
Loved ones filed a missing persons report, but the case languished with little signs of progress.
Last Thursday, Feb. 17, family members and friends joined local activist Quanell X at a press conference to pass out fliers and draw attention to Goodwin’s disappearance. They said they’d received little help from officials up to that point.
At that time, Houston police weighed in only to say that the investigation was still ongoing, and to dispute statements from eyewitnesses.
“From surveillance video, it does show that the missing person willingly got into the vehicle seen on camera,” the department said in a statement last week.
Henry David Cossette Arrested, Charged
Just days later, on Saturday, police on patrol and fire department units responded to a call about an “intentionally set fire” in the same area of southwest Houston.
First responders said they found 27-year-old Henry David Cossette inside, where he allegedly admitted to strangling Goodwin and dismembering her body before hiding the evidence. Authorities believe the suspect set the fire in an apparent attempt to take his own life.
Court documents claim that the suspect told police he’d hid the victim’s body on the south side of the 1800 block of Fellows Road, in a marsh off a backroad just near the interstate. Human remains were discovered at the scene, and though they haven’t been officially identified as of Tuesday, they are believed to be Goodwin’s.
Cossette was officially charged with the teen’s murder on Monday. He also faces an arson charge for allegedly trying to burn his home down, and a tampering with evidence for dismembering Goodwin’s body.
He was originally ordered to be held without bail, but a judge set his bond at $200,000 Tuesday. He’s due back in court on Wednesday.
If convicted of any of the three felony charges, Cossette could face life behind bars or even capital punishment under Texas state criminal law.
Loved Ones Recall Victim
Friends and family said that 19-year-old Sara Goodwin was more than a sex worker. She was a friend, a daughter, and a loving sister who relatives desperately hoped would return home safe and alive before Cossette’s arrest this week.
“She has a 15-year-old brother she will die for […] that she basically raises,” said Jessica Finn, a friend of Goodwin’s, to local outlet KHOU.