Thirty-seven years ago, a 5-year-old boy vanished in Mansfield, Texas. The case has remained unsolved until this month when one of his family members was arrested and charged with his murder.
Anthony Tyrone "Burt" Woodson was reported missing after he supposedly vanished from a 7-Eleven at 3:30 a.m. on Aug. 29, 1981. The boy’s uncle, Terry Lee Woodson, told police he brought the child to the convenience store to buy soda and that Burt fell asleep in the back seat of his car on the way there, according to a Dallas Morning News report published Tuesday. At some point, Woodson said, the child disappeared but he didn't realize he was gone until he returned home from the store.
Woodson and his wife, Della, took care of Burt. Burt’s grandmother, who had custody of Burt, gave the couple the child 10 months before he vanished because of her reportedly failing eyesight. The couple passed polygraph tests at the time, but the Dallas Morning News reported that the polygraph did notice some discrepancies regarding the time of the incident. Authorities conducted an exhaustive search but the case went cold for decades, according to the Mansfield Police Department.
Police reopened the investigation into Burt’s disappearance last year. They re-interviewed Woodson, now 64, who allegedly confessed that his wife Della beat the child to death and that he dumped his body near a dirt road. Then, a year later, he allegedly admitted that he beat the Burt with an extension cord, following his wife’s orders.
"She started the job and I finished it," Woodson told police, according to an affidavit obtained by the Dallas Morning News.
Della Woodson divorced Terry Woodson after the boy’s death and has since died, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
The boy’s remains have still not been located. Woodson was arrested on Aug. 16, police announced on Tuesday. He has been charged with murder and is being held on a $200,000 bond. He was previously convicted of vehicular theft in 1986 and for possessing cocaine in 1991.
Anyone with information about the boy’s body or any other information regarding this case are asked to contact Det. Sgt. Tom Hewitt at Mansfield Police Department at 817-804-5710. The after-hours number for the Mansfield Police Department is 817-473-0211.
[Photos: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Tarrant County Sheriff's Department]