HOUSTON – Investigators are offering a $25,000 reward to anyone who can help solve a case that's baffled police for more than 20 years.
The year was 1987 and the Jersey Village Falcons, led by running back Troy Collins, were having another successful season.
A season Troy's mother Ester wasn't about to miss. At all the home games she could easily be found watching her son, always sitting in the same seat.
“And I would be able to look up and say, what do you think? You know, my mom was special,” he said.
But one night she didn't show.
“She was tied up. She had been stabbed numerous times – gagged, just left for dead,” he said.
Ester Collins was found in a model home in Katy where she was worked as a realtor.
A couple looking for a new home made the horrible discovery and 23 years later no one has been arrested.
“To be able to pull this off in broad daylight in a busy model home in a neighborhood,” he said. “I mean you look at the time line, there were people who saw things, you look at the phone calls, you look at the ATM transactions, there are answers there somewhere it is right there.
Troy and his brother Shannon are determined to find out who did this and have made some progress, thanks to Ester Collin's older sister.
“If it wasn't for my aunt, we wouldn't have a chance, this thing wouldn't have a chance,” he said.
It turns out, back in 1987, Troy's aunt, like a detective, went door-to-door and talked with everyone involved and took great notes. She discovered that a woman, who had just bought a house down the street, had been calling Ester Collins the day she died.
“She had expected that day for workers to show up to do warranty work on her house and she kept calling my mom and my mom picked up around 12:30 and said workers are here,” he said. “And that was the last that anyone had heard or seen from my mom.”
After the phone calls, Ester Collins’ sister also learned her ATM card was used at two different locations and just over $400 had been withdrawn from her account.
“You look at that ... and there's your motive right there,” he said.
Troy Collins is convinced the workers who were in the home killed his mom.
The lead detective in the case, Sgt. Dean Holtke with Harris County Homicide's Cold Case Squad, says there is DNA evidence in this case, but so far, no match has been found and he says they've been looking.
“Associates, friends, boyfriends, you name it,” he said. “If it was a male and she was associated with her and we found him, we've gotten his DNA pretty much.”
But what about the workers?
“Yes, it is my understanding that Detective Holtke has not been able to identify every worker that was out there,” he said.
“You know the killer is still out there and one thing you learn, if you've been doing this long enough, is people talk. Eventually they will talk and they'll tell somebody,” he said.
So during this Thanksgiving week, 23 years after Ester Collins’ death, there is still hope some closure. will come.
“Never give up. Stay close to your family and with detectives, never stop asking questions. Never give up,” he said.
Holtke has two pictures of Ester Collins on his desk. He said they are constant reminders of a mother he never met, but knows would be proud of her son's and their passion for justice.
“We feel like we have something to give back, and not let what happened to our mother all be in vain,” Troy Collins said.
A mother who was there for them until her life was taken away.