Unanswered Questions In Gruesome 1991 Cold Case


Around midnight on Dec. 6, 1991, firefighters responded to a call at a frozen yogurt shop in Austin, Texas, where they discovered the bodies of three teenage girls naked, bound, stacked on top of each other, and covered with Styrofoam cups and lighter fluid and, finally, set aflame. 

The girls were lying near the back door of the shop in a mixture of blood, debris, and chocolate syrup, reports CrimeFeed. All three had reportedly been shot in the head, execution style.

A fourth girl was found, still alive, near the bathroom, with two gunshot wounds to the head. She died a short time later.

"The girls had obviously been in the middle of their closing-up routine when the killings occurred," according to a court document. The front door was locked, and an estimated $540 was missing. 

The police tried to piece together what had happened that night. For a week, there were no leads, until 16-year-old Maurice Pierce was found with a .22 caliber gun at a nearby mall. 

Pierce told police that the gun was used to murder the four girls and that he had received it from a friend, Forrest Welborn. After listening in on a conversation between Pierce and Welborn, they became convinced that pierce had made it up.

"It was obvious to everyone that Pierce was trying to force the issue on Welborn, who had no idea what Pierce was talking about," according to a homicide detective working the case. Ballistic analysis showed no link between Pierce's gun and the quadruple murder, and detectives noted that he seemed to have a mental illness.

Welborn was brought in for questioning and identified two other teens, Michael Scott and Rob Springsteen, with whom he had driven in a stolen vehicle just days after the murders.

After intense interrogation, Scott admitted to playing a role in the murders. Springsteen admitted to shooting one of the girls after the four men were charged with capitol murder. The charges were based on their confessions, in which they provided details of the crime scene that had not been released to the public. Pierce and Welborn denied involvement, and were released.

In 2007, tests revealed DNA from an unknown man on the body of one of the victims. Without DNA evidence that Springsteen and Scott were present, the two were released from prison, with the caveat that they could be arrested again if any new evidence came to light. 

Detective Jay Swann says of the DNA, "We don't know where that came from." But he told the New York Post that he still thinks Springsteen and Scott were involved in the crime. "I cannot rule them out," he said. "I am keeping a very open mind to alternate theories or additional perpetrators, but I haven't seen anything that leads me to believe that."

Sources: CrimeFeed, New York Post, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals / Photo credit: CrimeFeed

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