Three persons were charged Thursday after remains believed to be a missing Houston teenager were found northeast of Cabool.
Authorities charged Andrew Vrba, and his girlfriend, Isis Schauer, both 18-year-old Houston residents, with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and abandonment of a corpse. Briana Calderas, 24, of Cabool, is charged with first-degree murder and abandonment of a corpse. A public defender representing all three made filings in the cases on Friday.
The trio is charged with killing Joseph M. Steinfeld, 17, who was reported missing a week earlier. Burned remains believed to be his were discovered by the Texas County Sheriff’s Department at Calderas’ single-wide mobile home at 14551 Malberg Road in Cabool.
Texas County Prosecutor Parke Stevens Jr. said the investigation is ongoing. Officers remained on the scene Friday.
“It is a grisly terrible series of heinous acts by the accused,” Stevens said.
Steinfeld’s sister, Ashleigh Boswell, told the Springfield News-Leader that the victim – who also went by “Ally” and used the pronouns ‘she’ and ‘her’ on social media – had talked to the family about being transgender and possibly having gender-reassignment surgery one day. Boswell said she didn’t know if her sibling’s gender identity might have been a factor in the murder.
Vrba told authorities he stabbed Steinfield in the living room of the home and with the help of the girls, wrapped up Steinfield’s body, moved it outside and burned it. According to a probable cause statement, the women traveled to Walmart in Houston and Mountain Grove to buy items to aid in the burning.
Vrba, who along with Schauer graduated from Houston High School in May, told law enforcement officers some of the bones were placed in a garbage bag, which was transferred to a chicken coop on the property. Officers executed a search warrant and also found human bones in a burn pile next to the residence. Apparent blood stains were discovered on the living room carpet. Calderas admitted that the death occurred there, but denied that she wanted the teen to die. A cellular telephone belonging to Steinfeld and a knife were recovered at the property.
Facebook messages between the women gave officers a break in the teen’s death, which apparently occurred Sept. 3 – six days before Steinfeld’s birthday.
The women told officers that Vrba bragged about the murder and its brutality, according to court documents.
Relatives of Steinfeld had made a public plea this week seeking information about his whereabouts. Flyers were placed at some local businesses and online. An online fund to help the family has been established at https://www.gofundme.com/4gxr7u8.