Boyfriend strangled and killed missing Austin woman, according to affidavit

Paul Adams (Austin Police Department Photo)

Paul Adams (Austin Police Department Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The boyfriend of an Austin woman, who has been missing since August 2019, has been charged with murder, according to an Austin arrest affidavit.

Paul Ray Adams, 37, is charged with murder in the first degree and tampering with a corpse in connection to Robin Hatcher’s disappearance and death.

In August 2019, Hatcher’s daughter filed a missing persons report with the Austin Police Department. She told police that she was concerned for her mother’s well-being after hearing stories involving the mother’s boyfriend and domestic abuse, the affidavit says. The daughter told police Adams reportedly strangled a previous ex-girlfriend.

Hatcher’s daughter told police she hadn’t heard from her mom in over two weeks and that Hatcher’s apartment complex was attempting to evict her for failing to pay rent, according to court records.

In the middle of August 2019, Adams flagged down a mental health officer on North Lamar Boulevard in central Austin saying “he felt homicidal,” the affidavit says. Adams told the officer he felt paranoid and that he believed people were following him. Adams had two knives and two screw drivers on him, the officer noted. Also, noted the affidavit, this incident was seven days after Hatcher’s daughter last saw her mother.

In early September, APD decided to publicize Hatcher as a missing person and connected Adams as the last to be seen with her. Police noted that they didn’t receive a single tip on Hatcher’s disappearance which they stated as unusual, according to the affidavit.

Three days later, Adams went to the main APD police station after seeing reports of Hatcher’s disappearance and his connection to her.

Adams told police Hatcher worked on the last day he saw her, around Aug. 9, and that they rode the bus to the Lamar Transit Center and walked back to the apartment together. Adams said they got in an argument about the end of their relationship, the affidavit says. Adams told police they agreed to break up and he began gathering his belongings, but Hatcher allowed him to stay at the apartment until the next morning. Adams says, when he woke up the next morning, Hatcher was gone and he hadn’t heard from her since that day, according to the police report.

When officers asked Adams where Hatcher might be, he told police that he hadn’t thought about it since they broke up. Adams said he was making plans to leave the Austin area and try for a job in Port Arthur, Texas, the affidavit says.

Officers searched Hatcher’s apartment, but didn’t find anything that made them suspect a struggle happened. They noted medication that appeared to be important remained at the apartment. Hatcher’s daughter told officers her mom’s bank account had several hundred dollars in it which was unusual for the end of the month. Officers believed this evidence indicated Hatcher’s disappearance wasn’t intentional, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit says officers were able to get a search warrant to check cell phone records for Adams and Hatcher. Records indicated calls between the couple on August 12, but nothing after 10 p.m., the affidavit says. Hatcher’s phone was connected to a location near her apartment early in the morning of Aug. 13, but didn’t have any activity for the following two days. On August 15, Hatcher’s phone was tracked to a north Austin pawn shop. Officers went to the pawn shop and were able to match the cell phone to Hatcher.

In a review of surveillance video at the shop, officers saw Adams at the shop pawning Hatcher’s phone. Hatcher wasn’t seen in the video. In a later interview with police, Adams admitted to pawning Hatcher’s cell phone, the affidavit says. Police were also able to gather financial records for an account connected to Hatcher. Based on surveillance video at an Austin gas station, Adams used a card connected to Hatcher for several purchases.

APD spoke with Adams in Port Arthur in November about Hatcher’s cell phone. When officers confronted Adams about pawning the phone, Adams told police he’d found it at the bus stop and wasn’t aware it was Hatcher’s. Adams ended the interview with police after that discussion, the affidavit says

Several months passed without much of an update. However, on Thursday, April 2, an APD officer spoke with Adams at the scene of a 9-1-1 call. Adams told officers that he choked Adams with his hands and a pillow during an argument at the north Austin apartment, according to the affidavit. Adams told police he put her body in a bag and dropped it in a dumpster, the affidavit continued.

In a previous police report, an ex-girlfriend said Adams was abusive, placing his hands around her neck several times. The ex-girlfriend told police Adams threatened to kill her, the affidavit says.

According to the affidavit, Adams has a “history of violent disturbances” and was previously arrested for drug possession of PCP. APD noted that officers responded to several disturbance calls to Hatcher’s apartment in the months leading up to her disappearance.

As of Monday, April 6, Adams is in custody at Travis County jail with a bond of $1.5 million.

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