Tx. Teen, 19, Was Found Dead in Abandoned Building in La. 2004 — and Suspect Was Just Arrested

Police say that David Anthony Burns killed Courtney Coco in the course of a robbery

Courtney Coco
Photo: Alexandria Police Department

A Louisiana man has been arrested in connection with the 2004 killing of 19-year-old Courtney Coco, whose body was found in an abandoned building in Texas.

David Anthony Burns, 43, of Boyce, La., has been charged with second-degree murder, PEOPLE confirms.

Coco was last seen by her mother in October 2004. Several days after she disappeared, her decomposed body was found in an abandoned building in Winnie, Tx. — nearly 200 miles away from her home. Her 1999 Pontiac Bonneville was found in Houston the following week. Her death was classified as a homicide, although an autopsy did not list a specific cause of death.

According to an indictment obtained by The Town Talk in Alexandria, La., Burns killed Coco during the "perpetration and attempted perpetration of a simple robbery ... even though he had no specific intent to kill and inflict great bodily harm."

For years, Coco's family wondered what had happened to her.

David Anthony Burns
Alexandria Police Department

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In 2018, Detective Tanner Dryden of the Alexandria Police Department was assigned the cold case investigation, which ultimately led to an arrest.

"He has spent numerous hours working this case in an attempt to bring some closure for the family," Alexandria police Public Information Officer Josh Peppers told Fox News.

After the arrest, Coco's family released a statement expressing gratitude to all who helped solve the case.

"First, we would like to thank God," the family wrote. "This arrest is an answer to MANY prayers. We have waited 16 agonizing years for this day to come."

"To our family members and the many supporters who have NEVER given up on helping us fight this very long, hard journey for justice, THANK YOU from the bottom of our hearts," the statement continues. "We love you."

The family also mentioned Woody Overton, a former detective who now has a podcast called Real Life Real Crime, thanking him "for investigating Courtney's case when it was listed as a cold case and not being worked. He then solved her murder in only seven short weeks and turned over his findings to APD."

They also thanked Alexandria police detectives Tanner Dryden and Carla Whitstine for taking the case and their hours of work to make the arrest.

Burns, 45, is being held without bond, and has not yet entered a plea. Booking documents do not reflect an attorney authorized to speak on his behalf.

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