HOUSTON — A 27-year-old old man has been charged in connection with the death of an 18-year-old woman who had been missing since Feb. 6.
According to court documents, Henry David Cossette is charged with murder in the death of Sara Goodwin. He is also charged with tampering with evidence -- a human corpse -- and arson after allegedly setting fire to his apartment on Feb. 19.
A judge set Cossette's bond at $1 million on the murder charge and $100,000 each for the tampering and arson charges.
Cossette, who was arrested Sunday, is accused of strangling Sara, court documents state.
“Aggravating facts specific to the nature of the case: Defendant murdered the complainant via strangulation, dismembered her body and hid the remains, then burned his house down trying to kill himself," the Harris County District Attorney's Office said.
Houston police said their Missing Persons division opened an investigation into the disappearance of Goodwin who was last seen on Feb. 6 in the 8600 block of South Course Drive.
Friends were worried. Annissa Henderson said Sara was careful and kept in close contact through text messages. But that day, her phone went dead.
"And it just shut off, just like that, in those apartments. No contact. No new messages. Messages weren’t getting sent. We just knew," Annissa said.
Investigators said patrol officers and Houston firefighters responded to an intentionally set fire in the same area on Feb. 19. Cossette was found inside the apartment and admitted to killing the teen, according to HPD. He told police he left her body in the 1800 block of Fellows Road on the south side, 15 miles from where she was last seen.
The information provided by Cossette led detectives to a body believed to be Goodwin. They are waiting for an official identification from the medical examiner.
Worried friends did their own investigation
Just last week, family and friends of Goodwin were asking for the community’s help in finding the missing teen.
Those close to Sara sought the help of local activist Quanell X, who held a press conference on Thursday, explaining how they believed Goodwin was taken against her will.
Goodwin’s friends were able to recover her cell phone at the Victoria Park Apartment Complex on S. Corner St. The group organized search efforts at the apartment complex on Thursday and passed out missing person flyers.
At that time, they said they'd gotten little to no help from investigators.
Surveillance video they were able to get from a nearby car dealership showed the 18-year-old getting into a car. The car was described as a 2015 to 2017 four-door, gray Honda CRV.
Quanell X said the car has been seen by sex workers in the area who say the person inside had a gun.
Loving daughter and sister
Goodwin’s friend, Jessica Finn said the teen was involved in sex work, but stressed there was more to Sara than that.
"She has a 15-year-old brother that she will die for... that she basically raises,” Finn said.
Finn said Sara was a daughter and a loving sister who they had hoped would be found safe.
"Love your children. Be there for them. Stay in contact with them," Annissa said.