Saturday, July 17th, 2021
Police issue release on death
By Sydney Albert
CELINA - Amid continued scrutiny, the Celina Police Department on Friday released a statement and brief synopsis of its investigation into the case of Tre Billger, a 26-year-old from Celina who was reported missing in February 2020 by his mother and later found dead in Grand Lake nearly a month later.
According to the statement, in the time between Billger's reported disappearance Feb. 21, 2020, and when his body was found in the lake near the Celina lighthouse March 17, 2020, many reports - "mainly theories, rumors and innuendo" - about Billger's fate came in. The statement asserts Celina police followed up on and thoroughly investigated each report they received.
Celina Police Chief Tom Wale did not return phone messages from the newspaper seeking comment.
Police worked to retrace the activities and whereabouts of Billger in the time leading up to his disappearance, and continued to follow up on possible leads until his autopsy report was made available May 12, 2020, according to the statement.
The Montgomery County Coroner's Office, which handled the autopsy, determined Billger had died by drowning in the lake, with methamphetamine intoxication a possible contributing factor to his death. No other significant injuries were found that could have contributed to his death, according to the autopsy, debunking earlier reports and rumors that Billger had been shot or assaulted.
"To this day people continue to torment Tre Billger's family with these rumors, theories and outright lies as to the cause and manner of Tre's death. Some are trying to use these to garner favor and get out of jail and others either to get attention for themselves or to simply continue drama and torment Tre's family. We ask people to have some humanity about them and please stop," the Celina Police Department statement reads.
Billger's death has been ruled an accidental drowning, with the Celina police asserting there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. However, the department welcomes any "truthful, credible information which would show anything else."
Deliha Kramer, Billger's mother, initially filed a missing person's report with Celina police on Feb. 21, 2020. She reported last seeing her son at about 9:50 p.m. Feb. 18, 2020, when he reportedly got into a white Ford truck with an extended cab to get cigarettes. He'd reportedly told his mother he would be right back.
Kramer told detectives she was concerned for her son's safety due to comments he'd made days earlier that he'd be better off dead. She reported she was unsure if the comments were due to schizophrenia or because of his drug usage.
Billger's father, Shawn Billger, reported concerns of foul play to Celina police on Feb. 24, 2020, because of social media posts and messages he'd been receiving regarding his son. His concerns were documented in the official reports maintained by the Celina police.
Police obtained Billger's phone records and, with the assistance of an agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, attempted to determine Billger's whereabouts from the night of Feb. 18, 2020. His phone activity reportedly showed him leaving his mother's house around 9:55 p.m., returning to the residence at 10:15 p.m., and remaining at the house until 5:20 a.m. Feb. 19, 2020. He then reportedly left the house, showing activity in the area of Logan and South Main streets from around 6-8 a.m. that morning.
Detectives obtained access to Billger's Facebook Messenger account on March 16, 2020. Communications between Billger and a Jordan Cummins occurred at about 5 a.m. Feb. 19, 2020, pertaining to the sale of marijuana. Billger told Cummins he was on his way at about 5:12 a.m., and said he had arrived at 5:33 a.m.
Cummins was interviewed by detectives March 17, 2020, and he admitted to buying marijuana from Billger. Cummins reported Billger had stayed at his house for about an hour, they'd smoked marijuana and Billger had told Cummins he was going to rehab.
Later around 7:02 p.m. March 17, 2020, a bystander reported finding a body after initially trying to remove what appeared to be a sweatshirt from the water. The body, later identified as Billger, was transported to the Montgomery County Coroner's Office for an autopsy. The cause of death was accidental drowning. A toxicology report showed methamphetamine had been in his system, as well as marijuana. No apparent significant trauma was found on the body.
After the autopsy had been made available, detectives met with Billger's family members May 13, 2020, to discuss their findings from the investigation. Shawn Billger has reportedly had multiple conversations with detectives since then. A full report of the investigation had been released to the family, Celina police stated.
"Through the course of the investigation the Celina Police Department received numerous reports that Tre had been shot, stabbed, beaten, overdosed and other theories. The Montgomery County Coroner's report refutes these allegations," the synopsis concludes.