BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (CBS) — A body found in a shallow grave behind a home near Birmingham, Alabama, has been identified as Paighton Houston, a 29-year-old woman missing since December 20, CBS Birmingham affiliate WIAT reports.
Houston’s mother, Charlaine Houston, said her daughter texted a coworker that she felt she was “in trouble” before disappearing.
“She sent the message to the coworker… that ‘if I call answer, I don’t know these people and I feel in trouble,'” her mother wrote in a Facebook post on December 28.
Houston was last seen at the Tin Roof bar in Birmingham. One witness said they saw Houston leaving the bar willingly with two men, WIAT reports. According to her mother’s post, Houston drove with the coworker to the bar.
On Friday morning, police discovered a body buried in a shallow grave behind a home in Hueytown, near Birmingham. The discovery was made after investigators received information Thursday about a possible location for Houston’s body, according to Detective Ben Short of the Trussville Police Department, WIAT reports.
The remains were then taken for identification and confirmed to be that of Houston.
“Our family didn’t get the news we had hoped for but I am very grateful that Paighton is coming home,” Charlaine Houston wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday. “We don’t have to go through the torture of not knowing what was happening to her and where she could be. God answered our prayers, he brought her home to us. I prayed that if she was already in heaven, I just had to know so my heart could put closure to the missing nightmare.”
Houston’s body was intact and wrapped in a cloth material. According to neighbors, the home was once occupied by an elderly man, but family members moved him out of the house to care for him a long time ago, AL.com reports.
“It’s always hard, whenever you find remains of a person, it’s always hard, because there are family members attached to those remains,” Jefferson County District Attorney Lynneice Washington said. “Of course the most thing a family member would want is to have their missing family member returned to them, but we can’t give them that. So the only thing we can do at this point is to try to give them justice.”
Deputy Police Chief David Agee of Jefferson County, where Birmingham is located, said the medical examination is not complete and the cause of death has not been determined.
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office is now handling the investigation. No other information has been released as of Friday night.