Lady in Lake: New clues forge trail in Llano County homicide cold case

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Contributed/Llano County Sheriff's Office
LCSO investigators are searching for tips, including the last owner of a distinctive dog house bought at a Buchanan Dam yard sale, which could lead to the capture of a suspect in the death of a woman found cemented into a boat submerged in the water up from Inks Dam. A photo on the Justice for Holly Simmons social media page captured an image during the 2009 investigation of a body, later identified as Simmons, found cemented into the hull of a boat in the water near Inks Dam.






By Connie Swinney

Staff Writer

Burnet Bulletin

A new perspective and new leads prompted the Llano County Sheriff Office Nov. 27 to take another look at a homicide cold case involving the discovery of a woman's body submerged and cemented into the hull of a boat just up from Inks Dam nearly a decade ago.

The woman, 46-year-old Holly Simmons of Buchanan Dam, was last seen alive Nov. 28, 2006 after she dropped one of her children off for school.

A missing person investigation failed to reveal what happened to Simmons. On July 7, 2009 off-duty firemen doing practice diving exercises found a small aluminum V-boat submerged in about 20-feet of water under the old Texas 29 bridge crossing the Colorado River.

“They noticed a femur sticking out of the concrete, and that's how they found the body,” Llano County Sheriff's Deputy John R. Hill said.

Even after an autopsy revealed Simmons had been murdered, few clues trickled into state and county investigators to lead to a suspect.

On Nov. 27, a day from the 12th-year anniversary of Simmons' disappearance, Hill has revived the cold case by asking for the public's help for tips leading to a suspect or suspects' capture.

“This case has been re-visited a couple of times,” Hill said. “We put new eyes on it again.

“It's generated some new interest.”

Officials felt confident to pursue the case which does not fall under a statute of limitations.

A pivotal set of clues in rekindling the case involved descriptions of the boat and a homemade dog house, which was not found on the boat but may have been purchased in a garage sale at the same time.

“The person who had the yard sale had built this dog house,” Hill said. “It's very unusual in the material that it was constructed from.”

Also, investigators offered more details about a conversation by the man who purchased the items. According to investigators, he was a middle-aged man who identified himself as a Round Rock resident,buying the dog house for a relative who resided in Buchanan Dam.

“It had like a formica lining that had a pattern on it. It would be a very discernible pattern. The same person who bought the boat, also bought the dog house,” Hill said. “The person who bought the boat and the dog house may not have anything to do with it, but we could possibly trace it back to another person he sold it too.”

A secondary buyer in the Bertram area may play a role as well, investigators say.

Even though several years have passed, investigators believe they can expand potential person's of interest.

“She would be 58 if she was still alive,” he said. “We want to bring up something that might spark someone's memory.”

To offer tips or information, contact Deputy John R. Hill with Llano County Sheriff’s Office at 325-247-5760 or Hill Country Area Crime Stoppers at 1-866-756-8477 or on line at Tipsters can remain anonymous and be eligible for a cash reward up to $2,000.

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