AUSTIN (KXAN) — Justin Haden, 34, has been missing since Nov. 1. The Austin Police Department said in a press release he was last seen near his apartment in north Austin. Haden’s now presumed dead after a search of his apartment, according to an APD search warrant affidavit.
On the morning of Nov. 4, Haden’s lawyer called APD to request a welfare check since he or Haden’s family hadn’t heard from Haden in three days. His lawyer said Haden lived alone, wasn’t suicidal, and didn’t own a vehicle, the search affidavit states.
APD went to the apartment and had a property manager open the door after no one answered. No one was in the apartment, but police noted there were “red wine stains” on the wall next to a bed, according to the search warrant.
Haden’s father reported him missing on Nov. 7 then hired a private investigator to help locate his son, the search warrant states.
The investigator went to the apartment and saw the stains on the wall, but suspected they could be blood. He pulled back the sheets on the bed and found a large area of reddish-brown stains on the mattress that ran down the side of the bed onto the floor, the search warrant said.
He reported the discovery to APD and suggested a violent crime had been committed in the apartment. APD went back to the apartment to investigate and gather more evidence. The substance on the bed tested positive as human blood, according to the warrant.
KXAN reached out to APD Wednesday for additional details on the case. APD said: “This is still an active investigation and details are limited at this time.”
Surveillance footage and cellphone records show that Haden was with another man, identified as Gavin Roberts, 26, the day he was last seen, the warrant states.
According to the search warrant, video surveillance showed Roberts leaving Haden’s apartment the afternoon of Nov. 1 carrying two large white trash bags in one hand and what appeared to be a cardboard box and crushed brown paper in the other hand. He was seen again leaving Haden’s apartment, this time dragging a large blue plastic tote bin with what appeared to be a large black duffle bag on top of it. Roberts appeared to struggle to drag the tote and bag.
About an hour later, video surveillance showed a sedan with no rear bumper driving in the apartment complex’s parking garage, with the trunk propped open. A large blue plastic tote was holding the trunk open. It appeared to be the same size, shape, and color of the tote Roberts drug out of Haden’s apartment.
Investigators identified the last people Haden was in contact with, and that Roberts is the registered owner of the sedan.
Surveillance video showed Roberts and his vehicle at a McDonald’s in Jarrell the evening of Nov. 1, with the tote still holding the trunk open.
On Nov. 10, the vehicle was captured by surveillance in the Highland Lanes parking lot on Burnet Road in Austin, with the trunk shut.
Police believe Roberts committed the offense of tampering with a human corpse, which is a second-degree felony, the search affidavit states. A warrant was issued for his arrest.
Court records show Haden was previously arrested on a child sex assault charge. He pleaded guilty to a lesser charge, assault causing bodily injury. He received two years’ probation and deferred adjudication. Deferred adjudication is when a person pleads guilty to a charge, but there is no finding of guilt at the time of sentencing, according to a Texas attorney’s website. Instead, the court places the person on community supervision and if they complete their time, the original offense is dismissed.
We reached out to his attorney, but haven’t heard back.