PORT BOLIVAR — Authorities are continuing to search for the vehicle that belonged to one of the two Houston women found dead outside a Port Bolivar convenience store last week, a spokesman for the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office said Friday.
Deputies are also working to find the weapon used to shoot one of the women, said Capt. Barry Cook.
Britney Cosby and her girlfriend, Crystal Jackson, both 24, were killed sometime between March 6 and 7:45 a.m. March 7, when a beer deliveryman found their bodies near a metal trash bin about a mile from the Galveston-Bolivar ferry landing.
Autopsies determined that Cosby died of blunt force trauma. Jackson was shot.
On Thursday, deputies arrested Cosby’s father, James Larry Cosby, 46. He was charged with two counts of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence with intent to impair a human corpse.
Those charges may be upgraded to capital murder as the investigation continues, Cook said.
Cosby was arrested hours after appearing at a vigil for the slain women near his home in the Sunnyside subdivision of Houston.
While speaking to Cosby at his home on Wednesday, detectives saw bloodstains and other items that led them to obtain a search warrant for the home and to bring Cosby to Galveston for questioning.
It’s possible the two women were killed at the home before being driven to Port Bolivar and dropped off, and investigators have recovered several items, including a tire iron and a hammer, which may have been used to batter the women, Cook said.
Cosby has remained uncooperative with investigators, and detectives continued Friday to interview family members and others who may have information on the double homicide, Cook said. Sheriff’s office investigators also remained at Cosby’s home Friday.
On Sunday, the sheriff’s office released the sketch of a man who authorities said was seen driving Britney Cosby’s vehicle, a silver 2006 Kia Sorento with paper tags.
“We’re not 100 percent sure (Cosby) matches the sketch,” Cook said. “We’re open to the thought that there’s a second person.”
Cosby’s criminal record includes convictions for unlawfully carrying a weapon, and in 1994 he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman, according to Harris County court records.
In 2011, he was sentenced to two years confinement for failing to register as a sex offender, and was released from prison in October.
Authorities are still working to determine a motive in the killings, Cook said.
Family members told detectives that Cosby did not approve of his daughter’s relationship with a woman but also spoke of “another issue” that caused friction between the father and daughter, Cook said.
Britney Cosby’s mother, Loranda McDonald, told KHOU-TV Thursday that James Larry Cosby was upset about his daughter’s sexual orientation.
“He said it to me a few times that he did not like the idea of her being gay,” McDonald said to the TV station.
Texas’ hate crime statute allows for criminal charges to be upgraded in cases where a crime is committed because of a bias against sexual orientation. Even if Britney Cosby and Jackson were killed because of their relationship, prosecutors are unlikely to seek hate crime charges for a first-degree felony or capital murder charge, said Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas, a statewide advocacy group for gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
“When it ends up being family related, it certainly makes it even more complicated to pursue as a hate crime,” he said.
Smith noted that more than 73 percent of gay, lesbian and transgender homicide victims killed because of their sexual orientation in 2012 were people of color.
“There’s a reason for greater levels of fear among (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people of color,” he said.
Organizations such as Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays work with parents struggling to come to terms with their children’s sexual orientation, and it’s important that resources exist to assist those families, Smith said.
Calling Britney Cosby and Jackson’s deaths “tragic,” Smith said such crimes cause emotional harm and have an impact on the gay and lesbian community.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 866-248-8477 or Galveston County Crimestoppers at 409-763-8477.