LCSO: Murder victim’s body found in burn pile near homes in Tarkington

Texas Ranger Ryan Clendennen and Liberty County Sheriff's Investigator Mark Ellington (right) confer outside a property on CR 3015 in Tarkington where a murder investigation is underway. (File photo from March 2021)

Authorities say it could be months before they positively identify human remains found at a home on CR 3015 in Tarkington. Because the body was badly burned, DNA testing will be required.

The body was found when a separate investigation led authorities to the property where one of the two murder suspects, Cade Cates, 23, of Tarkington, lives in a cabin behind his grandfather’s house.

According to Liberty County Sheriff’s Investigator Mark Ellington, the body was found in a burn pile between the two homes.

No other family members have been implicated in the alleged murder; however, an associate of Cate’s – 26-year-old Randy Norlan Salinas, of Channelview – also has been charged with murder.

“This property is on five acres. The main residence, where the grandfather lives, is in the front. Behind it is a small cabin where Cates lived. We have a large crime scene with the exterior and the interior of the cabin,” Ellington said.

The investigation into the murder began on Tuesday. Liberty County sheriff’s investigators and Texas Rangers worked long into the evening and returned at daylight on Wednesday. A deputy was posted at the property overnight to make sure the crime scenes were undisturbed until the investigation resumed.

While Ellington cannot identity the murder victim without DNA testing, he did confirm that Cates is the half-brother of a Highlands teenager who disappeared a couple of weeks ago. Family members of the missing 16-year-old boy have been notified of the investigation.

The same property in Tarkington where this murder reportedly took place was the site of a disturbance in September 2020 during which Cates reportedly shot another man. The shooting victim in that attack reportedly then used Cates’ firearm to pistol whip him. Cates was critically injured while the shooting victim suffered a glancing blow to the head.

An update will be posted as soon as more information is available.

See related article:

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.


  1. Who ever beat that punk Cates with the pistol should have done the world a favor and killed that bitch. I sure as hell will if I ever can get my hands on him. Rest easy Cody.

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