Texas EquuSearch founder Tim Miller spent days looking for the 26-year-old who was last seen on Nov. 13 on surveillance video leaving a bar in the Heights. His body was ultimately found about 12.5 miles away from where he was last seen alive.
“We put a lot of effort in that search," Miller said. "We knew that it was him but of course, we had to wait for positive ID."
Police have not said if they believe Burkes fell into the water on his own or if foul play may be involved. The case has been turned over to HPD's Homicide Unit, but that's standard anytime there's a death associated with a missing person's case.
“Hopefully the investigation will put our speculations behind us and hopefully come out with the truth," Miller said.
Burkes, 26, was last seen on video stumbling near some bars in the Heights in the early-morning hours on Nov. 13.
He reportedly went out with some friends, one of which was driving his car when they pulled over into a restaurant parking lot near Bevis and West 19th and 20th Streets in the Heights. That’s when they said Delano went next door to McIntyre’s to use the bathroom.
Burkes was last seen on surveillance around 1 a.m. that Sunday. One video shows Delano leaving McIntyre’s after he was apparently asked to leave. In other videos, he appears to run and stumble nearby.
According to his family members, Delano's friends left without him and his phone ran out of battery. He also didn’t have an ID.
“He was with a friend that he hadn’t seen in a while ... they left him at the club," Delano's mother, Karen Jeffly said. “They had been there for a while, they were watching a fight, so he was tipsy. In the video, you can tell he was tipsy but we also feel like there was more involved ... we feel like he was drugged, too."
Police said they're still trying to figure out what happened that night.
“We do not have any information to suggest that he was drugged or slipped anything, (but) we can’t rule that out ... not saying it didn’t happen,” HPD Asst. Chief K.J. Deese said.
The search for Burkes
Burkes' loved ones spent days passing out flyers with his name and picture in the area in which he was last seen.
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee helped them amplify their efforts by bringing awareness to Burkes' disappearance and announcing a $5,000 reward via Crime Stoppers for information that helps lead investigators to his whereabouts.
“We want to find Mr. Burkes. No family should have to experience this," Jackson Lee said.