UT-Austin journalism students spotlight gruesome Austin murder in new podcast


AUSTIN (KXAN) — After months of research and reviewing KXAN’s trial coverage from one of Austin’s most gruesome crimes, the Orange Tree podcast is ready.

The true crime podcast was created by college seniors Haley Butler and Tinu Thomas at the University of Texas-Austin in 2019. The hosts chronicle the 2005 murder of Jennifer Cave at the Orange Tree Condominiums in West Campus near the university.

“We were the same age when we started this project as she was when she died. We wanted to add some perspective on the victim’s life and that’s not typically done in true crime podcasts,” said Butler.

A jury convicted Colton Pitonyak of murder in the death of Cave. In 2007, he was sentenced to 55 years in prison for the slaying. A jury also convicted Laura Hall for helping Pitonyak dismember the 21-year-old Cave’s body in his apartment’s bathtub at the Orange Tree condominiums.

The journalists reached out to KXAN for hours of footage from Pitonyak’s trial.

“We watched KXAN’s footage nonstop, any YouTube videos that we could get we watched to gain and understand the story better,” said Butler.

Butler and Tinu graduated in 2019 and continued to work on the podcast after graduation reviewing court documents, talking to detectives and talking with Pitonyak and his accomplice Laura Hall.

You can listen the Orange Tree Podcast here.

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