BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The search for Paighton Houston ended on a rainy afternoon in the backyard of a vacant house in Hueytown. Officers found the 29-year-old's body buried in a shallow grave two weeks after she was last seen leaving a bar in Birmingham.
One week after she disappeared, Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama and Governor Kay Ivey each offered a $5,000 reward for information in Houston's case. Days later, officers from Hueytown, Trussville, Birmingham and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office were at the house on Chapel Drive.
It's unclear what exactly led officers to Hueytown but Frank Barefield, Chairman, Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama, said several tips called into Crime Stoppers proved to be critical in this case.
"Crime Stoppers received several very good tips that were helpful in the Paighton Houston investigation and one or more persons will get a reward," said Barefield.
Crime Stoppers never learns or reveals the names of the people who call in tips and those tips are only shared with law enforcement officers. As part of its policy, Crime Stoppers also never releases how much money a tipster is paid.
Houston was reported missing Saturday, December 21 after her parents were called by one of the friend's she was with the night before. That friend told Houston's parents she willingly left Tin Roof bar with two men. More than an hour after she left, that friend said she got a text message from Houston that said, "IDK who I am with so if I call, please answer. I feel in trouble."
Shortly after her disappearance, Houston's mother, Charlaine Houston, said, "It's just devastating for us to go through this time and not know what's happening to her. Something had to of happened. I don't know what, someone has to know something."
She added, "I've got to get my daughter back."
In a Facebook post the day after her daughter's body was found, Houston wrote, "Our family didn't get the news we had hoped for, but I am very grateful that Paighton is coming home. We don't have to go through the torture of not knowing what was happening to her and where she could be. God answered our prayers, he brought her home to us."
She continued, "I prayed that if she was already in heaven, I just had to know so my heart could put closure to the missing nightmare. Paighton is eternally home with Jesus. Our family appreciates all the prayers, love and support from the Trussville community and around the world for Paighton. She touched the hearts of many in our efforts to bring her home and my heart is touched by everyone's love for our family. God will be our strength in the hard days ahead as we go through finding out what happened and life without Paighton. Continue to pray for our family. We are so thankful to you all!"
Houston's visitation is Thursday, January 9 from 5-7 p.m. at Clearbranch United Methodist Church in Trussville. Her funeral will be Friday, January 10 at 11 a.m. at the church. Houston will be buried at Jefferson Memorial Gardens in Trussville.
Houston’s cause and manner of death have not been determined. Her disappearance and death are still under investigation.