Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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June 21, 2014

Remains ID’d as missing woman

JACKSONVILLE — On Friday, the San Augustine Sheriff's Department confirmed that remains found in March were those of a Jacksonville woman missing since 2006.

Shunte Coleman was reported missing in August 2006 by her grandmother, Margaret Anderson. At the time of Coleman's disappearance, she was thought to have connections to former Jacksonville Police Officer Larry Pugh.

In the summer of 2006, Pugh accepted a plea deal in federal court for two counts of sex assault while on duty and retaliation against a witness. He was awaiting trial at the time Coleman was reported missing.

Anderson told the Daily Progress in 2006 she believed her granddaughter was dead.

"Word was put out in Jacksonville that if anybody testified (against Pugh), they'd be dead," Anderson said in an article published Oct. 9, 2006, in the Daily Progress.

San Augustine's Chief Deputy Gary Cunningham said Anderson was notified about Coleman's remains Thursday night.

"We are actively investigating the case," Cunningham said.

Cunningham said DNA evidence concluded Coleman had been dead more than one year but less than 10 years. Her skeletal remains were found March 12 near the intersection of FM 1196 and CR 347 in San Augustine County. According to a press release, the remains were found by a forester in a thickly wooded area.

Another woman with connections to Pugh who was reported missing in May 2006 was found dead in June 2007. The remains of Terri Renee Reyes of Athens were found near a Texas Forest Service road in San Augustine County in June 2007.

Pugh was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison in March 2007. According to police officials, he remains in jail. According to reports, nine women claimed to have been sexually assault by Pugh. Pugh denied all claims of sexual assault. In June 2007, the woman who was retaliated against and sexually assaulted was awarded $300,000 in punitive damages.

The San Augustine County Sheriff’s Office, assisted by the Angelina County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Rangers and the FBI, recovered Coleman's remains and had them examined by a forensic anthropologist at Sam Houston State University.

The remains were then delivered to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification, where DNA extracted from the remains were entered into the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

San Augustine and Jacksonville officials were notified Thursday that the remains belonged to Coleman, the release said.

"We are making no comments or making any speculation, because we are not going to impede any other agencies investigation," Jacksonville Police Chief Reece Daniel said Friday. "We had a missing person’s case that is now cleared, and we will cooperate with the agencies involved if they request our assistance."

Coleman was last seen in Cherokee County in early July 2006, and was 26 at the time of her disappearance, Cunningham said.

The investigation into Coleman’s death is being continued by the San Augustine County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Rangers and the FBI.

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