AUSTIN (KXAN) — As of Tuesday afternoon Austin Police Homicide Detectives confirmed the body found in Lady Bird Lake Monday is Martin Gutierrez, the man who went missing more than a week ago. APD said they are still waiting on toxicology reports from the Travis County Medical Examiner in this case.
Loved ones of 25-year-old Martin Gutierrez have been taking to social media to mourn him, and confirmed Tuesday that he was the one found in the water. They still don’t understand why Martin disappeared and tell KXAN they are waiting for answers.
“I lost my best friend…a void that will never be filled again,” Martin’s brother Mitchell posted on Facebook Tuesday morning. He told KXAN the medical examiner identified the body pulled from the lake as Martin.
Martin disappeared in the early morning hours of Nov. 19 after going out with friends on Rainey Street. Both Austin Police and Martin’s loved ones have spent the past week searching surrounding areas for him.
“He’s just a good kid, and if he was to come up to you, you’d fall for him in a second — his personality swallows you,” Mitchell said of his brother in a previous interview with KXAN.
Martin is from Big Spring,Texas and is a recent graduate of Texas Tech University. After graduating, he moved to Austin. Donations for his funeral expenses can be made here.
“Martin was the brother I could go to for everything and now he’s gone. I am lost with no idea what direction to go from here,” Mitchell continued in his Facebook post. “My family, friends, and community have come together in a way I never believed was possible in an effort to help me find him. I appreciate every text, call, message, posting, etc either sending prayers or providing assistance or advice to find him. Just keep our family in your thoughts and prayers…it helps more than you know. This world will always and forever be significantly less happy without Martin Gutierrez.”
Mitchell became the face of the search for his brother. The two were roommates, along with Mitchell’s girlfriend. They all lived together in Austin and had gone out for dinner together hours before Martin disappeared.
Mitchell spoke with media outlets and organized dozens of volunteers, posted fliers and asked for surveillance video all around downtown Austin. In fact, this search team of family and friends looked extensively near Riverside Drive along the water, the area in which Martin’s body was ultimately found. Many of Martin’s immediate family members barely ate or slept over the past week, instead they spent most of their energy planning search efforts.
Questions still linger about what exactly happened to Martin the morning he disappeared.
His family members previously told KXAN that he had been out with friends on Rainey Street, he had gone to Lustre Pearl and purchased one drink (according to his bank records, family members say), then went with his friends to the Alibi, a bar next door.
Accounts from bars show Martin acting strangely before he disappeared
The Alibi told KXAN that staff at the bar refused to serve Martin alcohol because he seemed intoxicated and was acting strangely.
Drew Boone, the manager of The Alibi, explained that he personally watched all the surveillance video of Martin alongside an Austin Police detective. In the video, Boone didn’t see anything he thought looked suspicious. But in the videos, he did see Martin hanging out with his friends and leaving the bar at 1:15 in the morning, running south down the street.
Boone’s account lines up with what Martin’s family had been saying: that Martin was seen on video leaving the Alibi at 1:15, running south down Rainey Street. Family members said Martin separated from his friends and was looking for a ride home at that time.
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission told KXAN it opened an investigation Monday into the Alibi related to Gutierrez’s disappearance.
Chris Porter, a spokesperson for the commission, explained the investigation was prompted by news reports which included video of Gutierrez acting strangely at the Alibi.
“The investigation is in no way an indication of any violations on the part of the bar; this is standard procedure any time TABC learns of incidents involving a licensed business,” Porter said.
Mitchell Gutierrez had also seen the surveillance video and said the way Martin was acting “doesn’t add up.” He said it was out of character for Martin to be intoxicated like that and run out of the bar down the street. Mitchell noted that it almost appeared as though his brother was frolicking in the surveillance video, which was totally unlike him.
Both Lustre Pearl and the Alibi said they could not share their surveillance video with KXAN because they had already turned it over to police. APD said this video could not be shared with KXAN because the investigation into Martin’s disappearance is still active and they cannot share any potential evidence.
Austin police investigation
Prior to the body discovered on Monday, Austin Police said they had no solid leads on Martin’s disappearance.
APD said that until they get the exam and report back from the Medical Examiner’s office, they cannot comment on whether they expect any foul play in this case.
Helicopters and boats were deployed by law enforcement for several hours on Wednesday to search for Martin, however none of those resources were deployed again in the search after that date. Austin Police said Monday they didn’t send out boats or helicopters again because surveillance video showed Martin leaving on foot in a direction that wasn’t to the water, and there wasn’t any evidence that indicated he was in the water.
APD explained that the possibility that Martin could be in the water was never ruled out and that they had plans in progress to further search the water on Monday.
“However given our experience and circumstances surrounding the incident we emphasized searching the body of water,” said Sergeant Ron Lara with the Missing Person’s Unit said via email.
“All avenues of his disappearance are open until the investigation is complete,” said an APD spokesperson in another email.
APD noted that around 20 APD personnel and around 10 Travis County Search and rescue team members helped in this search for Martin.