‘It’s scary’: Neighbors shocked after body was found buried, covered in concrete in south Austin backyard

Crime

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Neighbors on Mojave Drive describe the last few days as scary and shocking after Austin police discovered a body, buried and covered in concrete, in the backyard of a south Austin home.

Kristie Michelle Cardenas, 36, and Walker Ray Kaatz, 22, were charged with tampering with physical evidence in the case, which is a second-degree felony charge. Cardenas was arrested in Guadalupe County and Kaatz was taken into custody in Travis County.

Kaatz’ father told police his son asked if he could get a ride to a bank so he could buy a car and leave town, an affidavit said. Police say Kaatz and Cardenas lived at the home where the body was found, and the suspects may have had a relationship with the victim.

walker kaatz
22-year-old Walker Kaatz
36-year-old Kristie Cardenas

On Tuesday around 8:42 p.m., police say a 911 call came in about a body buried in the backyard of a home in the 5800 block of Mojave Drive. That’s near West Stassney Lane.

According to an affidavit, a witness who visited the home had called and said she’d been told a woman’s ex-boyfriend had been killed in the home, dragged outside and buried under concrete and cinder blocks. She said Kaatz pointed out drag marks and told her they had “bleached” them, the affidavit said.

The witness said she had been told the victim recently gotten out of jail and assaulted his ex-girlfriend.

When officers arrived at the home Tuesday, they spoke with the residents about the information they got from the call. Officers got permission to look through the house, and in the backyard they found a raised concrete mass surrounded by cinder blocks. Bags of Quikcrete, a shovel and gardening hoes were nearby, according to the affidavit.

Neighbors told KXAN and police they’d seen Kaatz recently unloading cinder blocks at the home.

“They had a Home Depot truck, and I thought they were working on the house,” said Allan Hollifield.

Photo from an affidavit showing where a body was buried in a south Austin backyard Aug. 19, 2020 (Austin Police Department Photo)
Photo from an affidavit showing where a body was buried in a south Austin backyard Aug. 19, 2020 (Austin Police Department Photo)

Officers then got a search warrant, and a cadaver dog alerted them to decomposition at the site of the concrete, the affidavit said.

The search resumed the next day. Homicide detectives, crime scene specialists, the Bomb Squad and Austin Fire Department all helped with removing the body, police say. Neighbors watched as police combed the scene for evidence.

“We could smell when they uncovered the body, and then they brought the body out from the backyard,” Hollifield said.

By Wednesday afternoon, the body was recovered from the backyard, and police say the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office took it in for examination.

“It’s scary to be so close to it and not having any idea that that had happened,” said Alison Martinez.

The identity of the person found has not been released yet, and there is no official cause of death at this time. The next of kin still needs to be notified.

APD Detectives are asking anyone with video or photos to call the Homicide Unit at (512) 974-TIPS or the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at (512) 472-8477.

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  • body found on mojave drive
  • body found on mojave drive
  • body found on mojave drive

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