AUSTIN (KXAN) — People in Austin are questioning a series of deaths in lake waters in Austin.
Online reports have been swirling in recent weeks about a possible connection between the deaths in Lady Bird Lake.
This report aims to provide KXAN viewers with full transparency and facts.
As of now, there is no strong connection to the deaths, according to Austin Police. “There are a lot of allegations that there’s a serial killer, but there’s no proof or evidence in any of our investigations to sustain that,” APD Assistant Chief Jeff Greenwalt told KXAN in April.
APD said the “circumstances, exact locations and demographics surrounding these cases vary.”
“One common theme of the drownings in Austin this year is the combination of alcohol and easy access to Lady Bird Lake,” the department continued.
Deaths in Lady Bird Lake
So far this year, there have been at least four bodies that were found in Lady Bird Lake. Last year, there were also a number of reported bodies pulled from the lake. KXAN has requested the number of times Austin Police has investigated a body recovery from Lady Bird Lake in the past five years.
KXAN is keeping track of the number of bodies in Lady Bird Lake in Austin.
|Date Recovered||Victim||Body Found||Preliminary Findings|
|April 15, 2023||Christopher Hays-Clark||Near 2700 block of Canterbury Street||APD: “No foul play or suspicious circumstances are involved“|
|April 1, 2023||Jonathan Honey||Near 10 Rainey St.||APD: Still under investigation|
|March 5, 2023||Clifton Axtell||Near 1100 W. Riverside Drive||APD: “Not suspicious at the time”|
|Feb. 13, 2023||Jason John||Near 30 East Avenue||Medical Examiner: Accidental drowning|
|Dec. 28, 2022||Near the Congress Avenue bridge||No preliminary findings reported|
|Dec. 25, 2022||Near the pedestrian bridge that runs alongside South Lamar||APD: Too early to identify the person or determine what caused their death.|
|Dec. 19, 2022||Josue Moreno||Near 1100 block of W. Riverside Drive||Shooting/Crash. |
Man charged with murder
|Dec. 10, 2022||Near South Pleasant Valley Road and South Lakeshore Boulevard||“The cause of death has not yet been determined,” APD said at the time.|
|July 14, 2022||Near 9 East Ave.||APD: The body could have been in the lake for “a couple days.”|
KXAN has asked Austin Police to help us identify the bodies recovered in 2022 and look for any that we might have missed.
We have also requested autopsy reports from the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office (TCME) for all the people found in Lady Bird Lake this year. Those reports take up to 120 days to be released.
Not all bodies brought to Medical Examiner’s Office for examination are autopsied. “The Medical Examiner may choose to either perform a complete autopsy or to perform an external examination only. Partial autopsies are not performed at TCME,” according to the office’s annual report.
If the bodies are not autopsied, the office does try to identify bodies taken in for examination. In 2022, only two bodies remain unidentified according to its latest report.
Doctor Alan Rampy, a courtesy associate professor of diagnostic medicine with UT Austin’s Dell Medical School, isn’t working any of these investigations – but offered third-party perspective on the timeline behind generating autopsy reports.
“Once you get your samples you often have to send out for outside analysis… so there are a lot of moving parts,” he said. “If a body has been in water for some period of time, it does essentially make the entire process a little more challenging because being in the water does a lot of things to the skin and other parts of the body.”
Jason John Autopsy Report
In the autopsy report for Jason John, The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office determined his cause of death was drowning and the manner of death was ruled accidental.
“According to reports, this 30-year-old man was witnessed by a transient bystander to be vomiting by the bank of Lady Bird Lake and then subsequently fall and submerge into the water in the early morning of February 5, 2023. After attempting to aid the decedent, the bystander went to a nearby hotel and contacted 911,” the report read.
Law enforcement searched the area but he was not found until February 13, 2023. Police found him fully dressed with his wallet and phone in his pockets.
John’s toxicology report showed alcohol was in his system but no illegal drugs were detected.
John had no significant internal or external injuries and that there were no fractures or traumatic injuries found, according to the report.
As the investigations continue, KXAN will continue to update reporting.