Photo: Courtesy Of San Antonio Police Department
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Thirty years later, the unrelated disappearances and murders of two San Antonio girls in August of 1990 remain a mystery.
It all began Aug. 4, 1990, when Heidi Lynn Seeman never returned home after walking from a friend’s house she spent the night at. More then 8,000 people showed up over the next 21 days to search for the 11-year-old. Then-mayor Lila Cockrell even declared Aug. 11, 1990 as “Find Heidi Day,” the San Antonio Express-News reported.
Almost three weeks later, 7-year-old Erica Botello was abducted on Aug. 23 while playing outside in her West Side apartment complex. Both girls were later found dead one day apart — Seeman on a rural road near Wimberley in the Hill Country on Aug. 25 and Botello in a storm drain less than a mile from her home on Aug. 26.
When police discovered Seeman, they said her body was so badly decomposed it would be almost impossible to determine the cause of death, according to an article in the Express-News on Aug. 27, 1990.
No one was ever convicted in either case.
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“It was so sad and upsetting to think about these sweet, beautiful girls going missing,” said Dottie Laster, who remembered seeing the news on TV. “People still tell me that they felt the same way — sad, scared, angered that anyone could hurt a child like this. It was an absolute loss to all of us.”
In response to Seeman’s disappearance, the Heidi Search Center was created as a resource for grieving families to help find missing children in Texas. Laster eventually went on to serve as the executive director for the organization for three years before a lack of funding forced the center to close in 2018.
She said the center helped thousands of families reunite with missing children or bring justice for those who were kidnapped or were killed by their abductor. By the time the Heidi Search Center closed, it had a 98 percent resolution rate and 94 percent of the children they were looking for were found alive.
“Being the parent of a missing child is just hell,” Laster said. “… It is torture and it is like a nuclear bomb that goes off for the family.”
Botello’s family went through a roller coaster even after she was found dead. Three men — 31-year-old Kenneth Earl Pope, 31-year-old Sherman Bedford III and 17-year-old Rodrick Springs — were briefly considered as suspects in the Botello case. In the Seeman case, investigators looked into two men as possible suspects but nothing transpired.
Laster says the mystery surrounding the girls’ death still haunts San Antonio to this day.
“Some monsters killed them, but the love their parents had for those girls will live on with so many people,” Laster said. “The people who took their lives are nobodies, they are nothing, but the love for those girls hasn’t extinguished.”
The Texas Department of Public Safety is still investigating the murders, something Laster says she hopes gives the families a sense of comfort. She describes it as a “relief of pressure” to know that people still care about Heidi and Erica.
“It has restored some of my faith in humanity,” Laster said.
DPS is still offering a $3,000 reward for information leading to the identity of Seeman’s killer. To be eligible for the cash rewards, tipsters must call the Crime Stoppers hotline at 800-252-8477. All tips are anonymous.