Lady Bird Lake Serial Killer Theory: Victim Names & Photos (2023)

Lady Bird Lake Serial Killer Theory: Victim Names & Photos (1)

Obituary photosSome of the men who died in Lady Bird Lake. Clifton Axtell (l), Jonathan Honey (center), Jason John (r).

A string of missing men have turned up dead in or near Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas, sparking fears of a serial killer, although Austin police say they do not have evidence of foul play.

On April 3, 2023, the Austin Police Department wrote in a statement that police are “aware of speculations regarding the recent drownings in Lady Bird Lake. Although these cases are still under investigation and evidence is being analyzed, at this time, there is no evidence in any of these cases to support allegations of foul play.”

The police continued, ‘While each incident has occurred at the lake, the circumstances, exact locations and demographics surrounding these cases vary. Our investigators approach every case with an open mind and objectively examine all available evidence.”

Police said they are working closely with the Travis county medical examiner’s office and noted “the results of these autopsies have not revealed any trauma to the bodies nor indication of foul play.”

They added, “One common theme of the drownings in Austin this year is the combination of alcohol and easy access to Lady Bird Lake, which has numerous access points. Many of the access points can be challenging to see at night. The parks in which most of these drownings have occurred are park areas that close at 10:00 p.m. and occur after the park closes. We advise the public to follow the rules on park closures.”

“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.

However, multiple Facebook groups have sprouted up around the serial killer theory, which has also taken hold on TikTok and other social media platforms. One group has more than 86,000 members.

In contrast, Texas Monthly has critiqued the theories in an article that proclaimed there was “almost certainly no serial killer in Austin.”

Texas Monthly says that, since summer 2022, “nine bodies have been pulled from the 416-acre lake, which runs for miles through downtown Austin,” but internet sleuths argue that “the true number of suspicious deaths over the last fifteen years or so is actually closer to twenty.” In one critique, Texas Monthly reported that Internet sleuths argue the deaths stopped during the pandemic, pointing to a serial killer. But the magazine points out bars were closed due to lockdowns during that period.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, “many of the bodies have been found near the Rainey Street entertainment district.”

KXAN-TV has published a map of recent deaths along the water.

According to Fox 7 Austin, police pulled a car with a bullet hole out of Lady Bird Lake on Monday, May 1, 2023, after getting a call about a shooting at the boat ramp. No one was inside, the television station reported.

Here are some of the people who died:

John Christopher Hays-Clark, 30

Christopher Hays-Clark was described as a “great father who left behind a 12-year-old boy,” according to KXAN-TV.

“A bright light in my life and my son’s life and in my family’s life and I just want … I just want to know what happened and I just want the world to know he didn’t deserve this,” Reegan Aparicio, the mother of Clark’s child, said to the television station.

“Chris – I miss you I love you, I love you, you’ll always be my brother,” his friend Carl Bellinger said to KXAN-TV.

According to the Austin American Statesman, Clark’s body was found in the lake on April 15, 2023.

Officer Michael Bullock, a spokesman for the Austin Police Department, said in an April 15, 2023, news conference, that the department received multiple 911 calls from people reporting a deceased person in the water of Lady Bird Lake.

A water rescue was performed, and the person was pronounced deceased. The homicide unit responded, according to Bullock. He said that, at that point, police had not “discovered anything suspicious.” He had no additional details at that point, including identity of the deceased or cause of death.

Asked whether he could understand the public’s concern “Austin has thousands of acres of green space and waterways. It’s a very nature-focused large metropolitan area,” Bullock said. he asked people to be aware of their surroundings and travel with friends to be safe. If police had any indication of suspicious behavior they would share it with the public, he said.

He called the deaths “very unfortunate incidents and tragic ones” but “nothing criminal has been seen.”

Jason John, 30

Lady Bird Lake Serial Killer Theory: Victim Names & Photos (2)

ObituaryJason John.

John’s obituary says he was also known as “JJ” and “passed away on February 5, 2023, at the age of 30 in Austin, Texas.”

John was born on November 25, 1992, in Port Chester, New York, according to the obituary.

He was survived by his girlfriend Tara as well as his parents and brothers. “He attended Corpus Christi Elementary School and Port Chester Middle school. He received a scholarship to Brunswick High school Greenwich, CT,” the obituary says. “Jason obtained his Bachelors in Business Administration from New York University. He started his career in New York City.”

During COVID, he moved to Florida and worked remotely before moving to Austin, Texas, in 2021, with his puppy, Ruffle, according to the obituary.

Jason John’s body “was found eight days after he first went missing,” according to CBS Austin. He “was last seen leaving Rainey Street walking toward the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail around Lady Bird Lake in an area that’s notoriously dark, the television station reported, adding that his partner Tara Hoda later asked city officials to install lights and cameras on the trail.

“Unfortunately, I will have to live with the mystery for the rest of my life– not knowing how or why my partner fell into the water and drowned to his death,” she told the television station.

Clifton Axtell, 40

Lady Bird Lake Serial Killer Theory: Victim Names & Photos (3)

Obituary photoClifton Axtell

According to his obituary, Clifton Axtell was “a beautiful, bright ball of energy” who was born in Plano, Texas.

“He was a son, brother, husband, father, nephew, uncle and grandson. Cliff loved his family deeply. He departed this earth on March 5th, 2023 and is profoundly missed by all who love him,” the obituary says.

“Cliff married Megan McKnight on March 5th, 2016. He worked as a land specialist for Veritas Commercial Properties in Austin, Texas where he was known for his innovative strategies in commercial real estate,” the obituary says. “Cliff was in his senior year at Harvard Extension School, where he made the Dean’s list each semester. He attended Southwest Bible Church and was active in Celebrate Recovery where he led worship for three years.”

The obituary adds: “We will miss his compassion, wit, kindness, and capacity to capture beauty and truth in his art. He loved writing and playing music. Cliff had the ability to energize the room with his fierce intellect and creativity.”

He is survived by his wife Megan Axtell. He left behind two children, the obit says.

Axtell’s Facebook page says he was a “Commercial Real Estate Analyst at Gap Equity Partners.”

According to The New York Post, Axtell, 40, “was identified as the man found dead on March 5.”

Jonathan Honey, 33

Lady Bird Lake Serial Killer Theory: Victim Names & Photos (4)

Obituary photoJonathan Honey.

According to The New York Post, Jonathan Honey, 33, “was found on April 1, a day after he was last seen at a food truck on Rainey Street.”

Honey “was in town for a bachelor trip,” KVUE reported. He disappeared on March 31, 2023, and he was found on April 1.

Jason John’s mother Elsie John told Fox 7 Austin: “Jason was 30. Jonathan Honey was 33. 2 in the morning. Rainey Street. So there were some similarities in the case.”

Honey’s obituary says Jonathan Seth Honey “passed away at the age of 33 due to a tragic accident on 31 March 2023. He was born at Griffiss AFB NY to Dr. David A. Honey and Cynthia N. Yellen on 23 February 1990. After spending his early years in Rome NY, Jonathan and his family moved to Hanscom AFB MA and then to Fairfax VA in 1997. During adulthood, Jonathan remained in the Northern Virginia area.” He loved shooting sports, fishing, and was adept at boat maintenance, according to the obit.

Martin Gutierrez, 25

In 2018, Gutierrez, 25, “was found floating in the water near the area where he was last seen, near Lady Bird Lake,” according to KVUE-TV.

The medical examiner ruled his death an “accidental drowning” while intoxicated, the television station reported. He disappeared near Rainey Street in November 2018, according to KVUE-TV.

His brother wrote about his death on Facebook at the time:

I lost my best friend…a void that will never be filled again. The pain is constant and more than I could ever imagine with what seems like no end in site. 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. 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.

Riad Hamad

His body was found in a lake, wrapped in duct tape . Riad Hamad (Palestinian human rights activist murdered in 2008)

— ➰ (@Silhouette007) August 9, 2014

Some people have also raised the 2008 death of Riad Hamad, described by the Austin Chronicle as an “Austin schoolteacher and peace activist.” Authorities said initial investigation showed that Hamad “appears to have committed suicide.” According to the Chronicle, his car was found in a parking lot near Lady Bird Lake and he was found floating in the water deceased, with his legs and hands bound and his eyes covered in duct tape.

“Park-goers who saw the body said the death did not look accidental. They said the man’s face was wrapped with duct tape, and his arms appeared to be tied in front of his body,” the Chronicle reported. But Austin police released a statement saying, “The bindings of his hands and legs and placement of the tape were consistent with Hamad having done this to himself,” according to the Chronicle.

Unidentified Person

According to KXAN-TV, a body was found on December 28, 2022, “Near the Congress Avenue bridge No preliminary findings reported.”

Unidentified Person

According to KXAN, on December 25, 2022, a body was found “near the pedestrian bridge that runs alongside South Lamar.”

Unidentified Person

On December 10, 2022, according to KXAN-TV, a body was found “near South Pleasant Valley Road and South Lakeshore Boulevard.”

Josue Moreno

#BREAKING Police are investigating a suspicious here near the intersection of Riverside Dr. and S. Lamar Blvd. our crew saw divers from the fire department searching Lady Bird Lake. @Austin_Police is planning a media briefing soon to give more details.

— Eric Pointer (@EricPointerTV) December 19, 2022

On December 19, 2022, Moreno was found near the 1100 block of West Riverside Drive. A man was charged with his murder in the “shooting/death,” according to KXAN.

KVUE-TV reported that Moreno was shot while driving a pickup. Joel Santiago Gonzalez-Paron was accused of shooting Moreno as a result of an earlier disturbance with other people, KVUE reported.

Unidentified Person

According to KXAN, on July 14, 2022, a body was found “near 9 East Ave.”

Julio Santos

Julio Santos has been missing since 6-3-15 and was last seen on sixth street in Austin. Please help!!!

— Whitley Pleasant (@WhitleyPleasant) June 7, 2015

According to Fox 7 Austin, Santos, 22, was found in 2015.

According to a 2015 article in the Austin Chronicle, “the 22-year-old University of North Texas student and Kyle native was last seen on Sixth Street, chattering all night to friends about an upcoming internship with Nordstrom. Two days later, on Sunday morning, his body was found floating in Lady Bird Lake.”

Austin Police said there was “no suspicious trauma,” the Chronicle reported, adding that “Santos’ snakeskin wristlet turned up behind the bar at Barbarella, still containing loose cash and an ID,” and he was last seen at a food truck.

In addition, according to Fox7 Austin, Christian Pugh, 21, went missing in 2019, but was found alive.

Cole Christianson, 21

The Daily Texan reported that Christianson was found dead “in a downtown creek.”
as 21-year-old Cole Christianson of Anchorage, Alaska.

Austin police ruled the death “not suspicious,” the Daily Texan reported.

Christianson’s body “was found Saturday morning at 11:10 a.m. by an employee of Austin Music Hall,” and Christianson “was a former student of the University of Alaska Anchorage.”

UT economics senior Dennis Beaudo, a friend of Christianson’s, told The Daily Texan: “He made a lot of people laugh. He had a really big smile. He treated everybody really well and was kind to everybody that he knew.”

Eron David Wrublik, 25

In 2014, Eron David Wrublik’s body was found “floating in the water at Lady Bird lake around 2:30 p.m. on Saturday” by two fishermen, according to KVUE-TV.

Investigators say “Wrublik went downtown with his friends on Thursday night. He hailed an Uber car to get home to Rainey Street, but the driver dropped him off outside the Holiday Inn near Interstate 35 around 2:30 Friday morning,” KVUE-TV reported.

Santiago Gonzalez Becerra, 23

According to CBS Austin, Becerra’s body was found in 2015 in Lady Bird Lake after “Becerra’s sister reported him missing on November 26, Thanksgiving, to the University of Texas Police Department.”

UT released the following statement regarding Becerra’s death, according to CBS Austin:

Today we received the sad news about the death of Santiago B. Gonzalez, also known as Santiago Gonzalez-Becerra, a graduate student in the Accounting-Professional Program at the McCombs School of Business. The loss of Santiago is devastating to our entire university. We express our deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

Randy Lexvold

In 2019, Lexvold likely fell from a bridge “into the water” and likely drowned, The Statesman reported.

The cause of death was listed as drowning but the manner of death undetermined, according to Statesman,

Lexvold “was in Austin from California to see his daughter compete in the USA Jr. Nationals Swimming Championships, which were being held at the University of Texas,” The Statesman reported. “Investigators could not determine how Lexvold ended up in the water, but they do believe he fell off the Sixth Street bridge.”

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Jessica McBride is a news reporter covering breaking news, politics and crime for Heavy. She is a former reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Waukesha Freeman newspapers in Wisconsin and is a senior journalism instructor at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. More about Jessica McBride

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