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25 Years Later, The Heidi Seeman Murder Case Remains Unsolved 

After 25 years, the disappearance and murder of Heidi Seeman remains unsolved. - FILE PHOTO
  • File Photo
  • After 25 years, the disappearance and murder of Heidi Seeman remains unsolved.

Just over 25 years ago, an unknown assailant kidnapped and killed a little girl.

On August 4, 1990, 11-year-old Heidi Seeman went missing while walking home on Stahl Road after spending the night at a friend’s house. The child’s disappearance shocked San Antonio, prompting thousands of volunteers to launch a three-week search stretching across 1,200 square miles.



The search ended in tragedy when Heidi’s body was found wrapped up in trash bags more than 60 miles away in the town of Wimberley. She had been raped, strangled and killed before being dumped. The culprit has never been found.

The case went cold, but hasn’t been forgotten.
click to enlarge newsetc1-1.jpg

Simmering Investigations

Bexar County Sheriff’s Department Deputy Chief George Saidler is in charge of the Criminal Investigations Division. He has extensive experience working cold cases.

Between 2000 and 2007, Saidler worked for the San Antonio Police Department – including investigating Heidi’s murder.

“All of our cases, especially involving children … are very disturbing to the community and to the officers who work to solve those cases,” Saidler told the San Antonio Current last week.

Citing an ongoing investigation, Saidler declined to shed details about Heidi’s cold case.

However, a quarter-century later, Heidi’s kidnapping and murder are still in the mind of many San Antonians. The Texas Rangers, the investigative branch of the state Department of Public Safety, feature her as one of the agency’s top 12 cold cases.

“The Rangers have been working with the San Antonio Police Department since 2007 at the request of former SAPD Chief (William) McManus, and they continue to work together to solve this case,” DPS spokeswoman Summer Blackwell said in a statement.

“Part of working together includes sharing and investigating any tips or information reported along with looking for new ways to test or retest any physical evidence,” she said.

In 2013, DPS created the Texas Rangers Unsolved Crimes Investigation website, which prompted an increase of tips about Heidi’s case. Blackwell said each of those tips was investigated.

“All agencies working this investigation are hopeful that we will find other evidence or receive a tip that will help crack this case,” she said.

However, cracking a cold case is no easy task. And Heidi’s is one among hundreds in Bexar County.

click to enlarge The murders of Heidi Seeman and Erica Botello gripped SA. - BRYAN RINDFUSS
  • Bryan Rindfuss
  • The murders of Heidi Seeman and Erica Botello gripped SA.

“We’re aware of around 458,” Saidler said. “These are all homicides.”

When he worked for the SAPD as a cold case detective, there were around 1,600 unsolved murders dating back to 1952.

The Current reached out to SAPD for information and interviews on their cold case files, but the department did not get back to us as of press time.

Saidler said working unsolved murders is difficult, but new technology like advanced finger print databases and improvements in DNA testing have significantly helped detectives.

“There’s a new way for us to get fingerprints. The old way, we had to have a suspect name and have a fingerprint examiner do a one-to-one comparison,” Saidler said. In the new system, authorities can submit a print to a database, which can produce immediate potential hits.

Another Texas Ranger top 12 cold case shows show how important these new tools have become in producing strong leads.

In 1981, authorities found a female teenager shot to death by I-35 in Comal County. Twenty-eight years later, DNA technology identified her as 18-year-old Carol Joyce Deleon, who graduated from Thomas Edison High School just days before she was murdered. So that’s one step toward closure. But her killer remains on the loose.

The reams of publicly available information online and on social media have also helped cold case investigators make better connections with the community, often leading to useful tips.

Saidler recalled a woman contacted him after seeing the SAPD’s cold case website about an unsolved murder 26 years after the murder took place.

“She was able to help us and we ended up getting a conviction,” he said.

Still At It

click to enlarge Dottie Laster, who has experience combating human trafficking, is the Heidi Search Center’s executive director. - MICHAEL MARKS
  • Michael Marks
  • Dottie Laster, who has experience combating human trafficking, is the Heidi Search Center’s executive director.

There’s a nondescript building with a yellow awning on Naco-Perrin Boulevard in Northeast San Antonio where Dottie Laster works as executive director.

Inside, last week, Laster was in an office talking to a distraught couple whose child was missing.

This is the Heidi Search Center, which was formed to find Heidi. But even before the girl’s lifeless body was found, the center started helping another family whose little girl went missing on August 23, 1990.

Erica Botello, 7, was abducted while playing outside of the End Baptist Manor Apartments on West 35th Street. Authorities found her the same day they found Heidi. And like Heidi, Erica was abducted, raped and strangled to death, her body found in a storm drain about a mile from her home.

Three men were initially accused of killing Erica. One had an alibi. Another was released due to lack of evidence and a third was deemed mentally incompetent and committed to the San Antonio State Hospital.

While Erica’s and Heidi’s lives were needlessly taken, causing a lifetime of pain for their families, both girls’ legacies live in the center’s daily efforts to help thousands of people find loved ones over the last 25 years.

Its motto: “What started in tragedy continues in hope.”

There’s a large “Wall of Hope” in the lobby that features the faces of the missing.

click to enlarge The Wall of Hope at the Heidi Search Center documents local missing persons, including Erica Botello (bottom right), whose body was found the same day Heidi Seeman's body was discovered. - MICHAEL MARKS
  • Michael Marks
  • The Wall of Hope at the Heidi Search Center documents local missing persons, including Erica Botello (bottom right), whose body was found the same day Heidi Seeman's body was discovered.

“To let something evil turn into something beautiful, I think that’s an act of being a human, not a monster,” Laster told the Current. “We take up tragedy and turn it into the best thing possible.”

However, for families who have lost loved ones in the most horrible way, hope is important, but it can also be fleeting.

The Current couldn’t reach Heidi’s parents, who no longer live in Texas. But they spoke with WOAI-TV last week, telling the station they will privately mark the anniversary of Heidi’s abduction and murder at their home in Florida by eating Heidi’s favorite meal: macaroni and cheese and hotdogs.

They doubt their daughter’s killer will ever be found.

“But last year I realized that it’s going to be 25 years. So my head says no, after all this time it’s not going to be solved,” mother Teri Seeman told the station.

Saidler understands how hard life becomes for relatives of cold case victims.

Investigations may slow down as the volume of information and new leads decrease. But detectives are still at it, day in and day out.

“I would say that even though the families don’t hear from us all the time, they are never forgotten about,” Saidler said.

Want to help? Tips Turn Into Leads

Bexar County Sheriff’s Department
(210)-335-6010, bexar.org/600/Sheriffs-Office

Texas Rangers (Texas Department of Public Safety)
(800) 252-8477, txdps.state.tx.us/contact

San Antonio Police Department Cold Case Tip Line 
(210) 207-7401


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