An Osage County murder case that’s been cold for nearly eight years has gotten a big boost.
The man wanted for murdering Donna Wilson turned himself in Tuesday.
Wilson went missing in February of 2011. Her remains were found six months later inside a bus that had been set on fire.
Thanks to Cold Justice, a television show on the Oxygen network, her family is finally getting some answers.
Wilson’s daughter, Moriah Bassett, remembers the last picture she took with her mother.
“It’s hard to tell in the picture, but she was just crying, she was just so happy,” she said. “She just cried the whole time holding my daughter, saying, ‘I can’t believe it. I’m a grandma.’ She was just overjoyed.”
A few days after Bassett’s daughter was born, she and her mother made plans to get together, but she never heard from her again.
“There was no way, after seeing her excitement of being a grandma, that she would disappear for that long,” stated Bassett.
She filed a missing person’s report because she says she knew something was wrong.
“About six months later, I got a phone call from someone up there saying they found some remains and my heart just dropped,” she said.
Firefighters went to a rural property in Osage County where Wilson had lived for several years with her boyfriend, Dustin Koelliker. They found a torched school bus with skeletal remains inside.
The remains were consistent with Donna's description, but they were so badly burned that it was hard to positively identify them. The Medical Examiner said the remains had shown that the victim matched Donna’s weight and height and the victim had broken their leg at some point, so they started searching for hospital records.
“We were going to use the broken leg to try to get medical records to corroborate the story of the broken leg, but we were unable to find any medical records, so the case, even though we had a suspect and we had built a case, it still stalled because we were unable to identify the remains recovered that day,” said Investigator Bill Gee from the Osage County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigator Gee says Wilson had lived in several different states, including Texas, Colorado, California, and Oklahoma, and they didn’t have the resources to start searching for medical records in all of them and they didn’t even know where to start looking.
“I obviously can’t go to those places,” said Investigator Gee. “I wouldn’t know where to look.”
The Sheriff’s Office has been working with investigators from the TV show Cold Justice on some open cases. Through the show, they were able to go through the evidence and re-interview witnesses and finally get a warrant for Koelliker.
“I just kind of sighed a sigh of relief,” said Bassett, “knowing that even though the trial hasn’t happened yet, he’s in jail. To me, that’s a step in the right direction. It’s the beginning of closure for me of not knowing, after all these years, is the man who did this going to pay?”
“It was rewarding to let her know that we haven’t forgotten Donna, that we haven’t forgotten her and we are still working on bringing justice to her family,” said Investigator Gee.
Bassett says she misses her mother every day and wishes that she could call her on the phone whenever she needs advice.
“There have been numerous times that I’ve just wanted to call her and ask what do I do in this situation. How do I handle multiple children at once, how do I do these different things that you would ask a mom, and I couldn’t do that,” said Bassett.
And even though her children will never know their grandmother, she will always have memories of her to share with them.
“I will always miss her and I will always love her, but the best that I can do is continue on raising my children, and that’s all I can do.”
If you're interested in watching the show, you can catch the episode Friday, September 28, 2018, at 11 p.m. It will re-air Saturday, September 29, 2018, at 5 p.m. and Sunday, September 30, 2018, at 2 a.m.