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Sheriff: Too early to link Padre Balli bodies to missing couple

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Posted at 10:59 AM, Oct 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-28 19:47:46-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Kleberg Co. Sheriff's Office has recovered two bodies from the area south of Bob Hall Pier, but despite the bodies' locations, Kleberg Co. Sheriff Richard Kirkpatrick is being cautious connecting the bodies with the missing couple.

"We don't want to come out and say for sure, definitively that this is connected to the missing persons case because it's just too preliminarily early stage to tell," he said.

Deputies have began searching near the location where missing New Hampshire couple James and Michelle Butler were last seen, since around 5 p.m. Sunday.

Deputy Chief Jaime Garza told KRIS Communications that two bodies - one male and one female - have been found at mile marker 263 near Padre Balli Park on Padre Island, where sheriff’s deputies were on the scene overnight and into Monday. The bodies will now be sent to the Nueces Co. Medical Examiner's Office for identification.

The remains were extremely decomposed. Authorities estimate it will take several days to determine who it is.

But Kleberg Co. Sheriff Richard Kirkpatrick said that on Sunday an investigator working the case spotted "an anomaly" that turned out to be human remains.

They were searching this area because it's the last location where 48-year-old James Butler's cellphone pinged, but the remains found on Sunday have not been connected to the missing couple.

The items found maybe be female, based on the undergarments that were found at the scene. Officers continue to search for evidence at the scene.

Because of several other missing person cases, Kirkpatrick is unwilling to connect the remains to the missing couple.

Kirkpatrick said the couple's vehicle, a 2018 silver Chevrolet four-door pickup with New Hampshire plates, was seen crossing into Mexico during the night. It was used to cross the Del Rio border bridge.

Agencies working the case include the Texas Rangers, the Department of Public Safety, Texas Parks & Wildlife, the Border Patrol and the U.S. Coast Guard.

This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.