Thomas Billy Lee Tillery’s mother is struggling to find a way to get her son’s remains returned to her in California.

Thomas Billy Lee Tillery’s mother is struggling to find a way to get her son’s remains returned to her in California.


The 11-year-old child was reported missing from Madill in 1994. His partial remains were identified last week and his mother, Reba Williams, was notified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.


“The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children are working with Tillery’s family in hopes an Oklahoma funeral home may step in to help them lay this child to rest,” said OCME spokeswoman Cherokee Ballard Thursday afternoon.


“His mother has struggled for years not knowing what happened to her son or what to do. Today she’s struggling to get her son returned to her new home in California. A cemetery there wanted to charge $2,000 to bury the boy, not including transporting him from Oklahoma to California. His mother and her husband can’t afford it, but are desperate to bring Thomas home. They want to have him cremated in Oklahoma and buried in California near another family member.”


Ballard confirmed Thursday the child’s remains, which were sent to the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification for DNA testing and positive identification, had been returned to the OCME’s office earlier this week and are ready to be returned the child’s mother.


Tillery was finally identified after Carter County Deputy Rick Batt reopened the case involving the discovery of a partial skull in rural Dickson, just three months after the boy disappeared more than 16 years ago. Batt’s probe into the case led to new work by Detective Sgt. Traci Schinner, Norman Police Department, a forensic artist. A composite drawing linked the remains to photos of the child and finally to a skeletal overlay which matched. The medical examiner’s office then sent the remains to the university, where DNA was matched to his mother and resulted in the positive identification.


Ballard called the identification, “ ... Part of an on-going project called the “Oklahoma Project Search for the Missing”, which utilizes experts within the O.C.M.E., the O.S.B.I., local law enforcement agencies like the Carter County Sheriffs Department and the University of North Texas.”


But Batt said the case is not closed. He continues to investigate the circumstances of the child’s disappearance from Marshall County and how his remains were found in Carter County. Madill police have issued a press release vowing to assist in that investigation. Anyone with information is urged to contact Batt by calling the CCSD at (580) 223-6014.


Meanwhile those interested in assisting in returning the child’s remains to his mother should contact Ballard at (405) 239-7141 ext. 141.