A mystifying case from Texas, still unsolved, involves the death or disappearance of girls and young women in a tri-county region on the Gulf of Mexico. Conflicting stories from investigators and the media have so confounded matters that to date, the body-count has variously ranged from sixteen victims to an estimated maximum of forty. After almost twenty years, one thing -- and one thing only -- may be said about the case with certainty: the killer is unknown, presumably at large. On April 5, 1981, a UPI dispatch quoted Lt. Nat Wingo, of the Brazoria County Sheriff's Department, as stating that 21 girls had been kidnapped and killed during a four-year span in the early 1970s. Wingo seemed to consider his roster an incomplete list, speculating that as many as 40 victims may have been slaughtered during the same general period. (When pressed for details by the author, Wingo indicated that the press "got that all wrong," but he refused to specify the errors or release a list of victims.) On April 7, the Associated Press announced that bodies of 21 victims had been recovered in Brazoria, Harris, and Galveston Counties since females began disappearing in 1971. At least eight of the deaths in Brazoria County were "similar," but police stopped short of calling the case a mass murder . (Lt. Wingo, by contrast, was "certain" of one killer's responsibility in "most" of the crimes.) Based upon available reports, the victims killed or kidnapped in Brazoria and southern Harris Counties ranged in age from 12 to 21, with most aged 14 or 15. All were white and fair, described as slender, with long brown hair parted in the middle. Eight of the dead, recovered over a ten-year period, were reportedly found near bodies of water. At least three Brazoria County victims were shot, while two others were beaten to death. The only victims publicly identified -- 12-year-old Brooks Bracewell and 14-year-old Georgia Greer -- vanished from Dickinson, Texas, on September 6, 1974. Their skulls were found by an oil rig worker near Alvin, in 1976, but they were not identified until April 4, 1981, thereby reopening a stagnant investigation. Authorities from the affected areas convened that month to share their meager evidence , declaring that a list of eighteen victims had been sorted out for special study. Two of the cases had already resulted in convictions, but they were left with the others "for purposes of comparison." All but one of the victims were murdered between 1971 and 1975, with eleven killed in the first year alone. At this writing, the case remains open, with no end in sight.