The bones of a San Antonio woman are found buried in her backyard.
On May 5, 1997, Monika Rizzo left her job at the San Antonio Department of Human Resources. She never told anyone where she was going and never said goodbye.
Leonard Rizzo, Monika’s husband, claims his wife came home that afternoon but disappeared a few days later. He never reported her disappearance to the police:
On June 5th, a few weeks after Monika’s disappearance, San Antonio police received an anonymous phone call claiming Monika had been murdered by her husband and that her bones were buried in her backyard. The San Antonio police arrived at the Rizzo’s house shortly after. Monika’s oldest son answered the door. He told the police that he was just visiting and hadn’t seen his mother in a week. Inside the house, police found nothing out of the ordinary. Monika’s clothes were still hanging in the closet and her car was parked in the driveway. Nothing seemed to be missing except Monika Rizzo. While searching the backyard, the detectives did find bones. But they clearly belonged to some kind of animal. The anonymous caller appeared to be wrong.
Five weeks later, on July 5th, police received another anonymous tip. This time the caller gave detectives an exact location in the backyard. According to the anonymous tipster, Monika’s bones were buried under a pile of tires by the fence.
Again, the police quickly responded. After searching the Rizzo’s backyard, detectives collected a skull, a number of bone fragments, and even a bag filled with what appeared to be human flesh.
Leonard Rizzo claimed he had no idea how the bones got there:
Detectives also learned that Monika’s co-workers were concerned for her safety. On one occasion, they had even asked police to check on her at home, but Leonard claimed he had never hurt his wife:
Initial DNA tests on the bones proved they were human. But whose were they?
Dr. Robert Hard was part of a team of archaeologists from the University of Texas brought in to excavate the site:
Before they were done, the yard was dotted with dozens of orange flags:
For eight days, Dr. Hard and his team collected a total of 200 bone fragments. Most had been chopped into pieces less than 3 inches long. Dr. Hard formulated a theory:
Once again, police questioned Leonard Rizzo:
Leonard Rizzo continued to insist that he had nothing to do with his wife’s disappearance or the bones in his backyard:
DNA testing recently revealed that all the bone fragments were, in fact, those of Monika Rizzo. However, the San Antonio District Attorney still lacks enough evidence to file charges.
After two years of no new developments, Leonard Rizzo was arrested for attacking his girlfriend. He was convicted on four criminal counts including assault with a deadly weapon and kidnapping.