AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin police released new video of the last known sighting of a 23-year-old woman who was found dead on Dec. 31 in a wooded area in east Austin.
The surveillance video from Dec. 28 shows Coleman walking past the Kool Korner gas station on Manor Road just after 5:30 p.m. and about a half hour later walking back toward the gas station and going inside.
Detectives say the gas station is close to where Coleman lived and she’d frequent the area often. It’s about a 10-15 minute walk from the wooded area where her body was found off of Ed Bluestein Boulevard.
APD hopes releasing the video will lead to tips about what might have happened to Coleman from the public. In the video, she was wearing a bright shirt with a pattern that detectives hope someone will recognize.
“If they might have seen her around that time frame, around that weekend, the clothes that she was wearing in the video footage that we released this morning, I think would stand out with that pink or reddish shirt with the design on the sleeves,” said APD Homicide Detective Patrick O’Farrell in a press conference Wednesday.
In the press conference, O’Farrell said the department would not yet release the cause of death in order to protect the integrity of the investigation. However, he did state that Coleman was found naked with signs of trauma to her body.
O’Farrell said at this time in the investigation, detectives don’t have enough evidence to determine whether Coleman’s death was targeted or random. He says because she was new to the area, investigators are having a harder time tracking down leads.
“With her being new to the area, we don’t know who she would have been hanging out with at this time,” O’Farrell said. “That’s why we’re asking for the public’s help. Did they know, maybe, her routine or acquaintances she might have had or anybody she might have been seen with?”
O’Farrell says due to Coleman’s history of mental health problems, she was a high-risk victim.
“Like a dog with rabies”: Family of woman found dead in east Austin helping police catch killer
On the last day of 2018, a biker reported finding Coleman’s body near the 7000 block of Ed Bluestein Boulevard, south of Manor Road. Detectives told Coleman’s family she was found naked on the side of US Highway 183 with obvious injuries but they have not released how she died.
Coleman’s family told KXAN she had a history of mental illness and was visiting Austin after seeking treatment for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Anyone with information about this case is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS, text “Tip 103” to CRIMES or email APD homicide at email@example.com.
Police launch community policing initiative in high-crime area
Because of the crime the area has seen, Austin Police began a new initiative called Operation Blue Wave Monday. For at least eight months, patrol officers will visit neighborhoods in what they call the Charlie Sector, or Central East Austin. They’ll talk to neighbors about their concerns and work with the community to better patrol the area based on neighbors’ needs.
“They were knocking on quite a few doors. They told me that they talked to quite a few people in this neighborhood,” said Sadalia Hodge, who lives close to where Coleman’s body was found. “I’m just really impressed that they’re over here even being concerned like that.”
Officers say they spent about three hours speaking to Hodge and dozens of other neighbors Monday. They hope building better relationships with the community will help neighbors feel more at ease about coming forward with tips in cases like Coleman’s.