"At first, I didn't believe it," said Walter Rubio, who made the discovery Tuesday morning. "And then I got close, and then I got pretty scared. I'm like, how can a casket appear?"
Houston police believe floodwaters may have unearthed the casket from a nearby cemetery, according to Kese Smith, a spokesman for Houston Police Department.
An empty grave was reported in Riceville Cemetery, along Keegans Bayou, not far from where the casket was found.
Rubio said he tried to open the casket but failed and called the police. Officers opened the casket in an effort to identify to whom the casket belonged, and they found a body inside.
"It's always disheartening when you have a situation like this," said deacon Reginald Fields, who was called to the scene because his church, Riceville Mt. Olive Baptist Church, owns the private cemetery that buries church members.
The headstone of an empty grave that read 2007 on it gave clues of who was in the casket.
Fields believes he knew the woman and made the painful call to the widower.
"Nobody wants to come eight years later and to relive the death of a remains," Fields said, adding that he hopes to return the body to its final resting place.
According to Smith, the Harris County medical examiner will determine the identity of the body and is holding the body and the casket until it can be returned to its rightful owner.
This is the first report of a casket that might have been unearthed by floodwaters in the recent storm that has ravaged Texas, Smith said.