Lady Bird Lake stretches six miles through the Texas capital, making it appear more like a river than a lake. Built in 1960, it reaches a depth of 18 feet and is largely used for recreational purposes. Police have found 10 bodies in the past 20 months.
On Feb. 5, police discovered the body of an unknown female in Lady Bird Lake.
That marked the tenth body found in the lake since July 2022, prompting suggestions from some that a serial killer was roaming the streets of Austin and using the reservoir as a dumping ground. Austin residents can rest easy, however, as the notion of a serial killer is routinely dismissed by law enforcement each time a new body is discovered in the reservoir.
Lady Bird Lake stretches six miles through the Texas capital, making it appear more like a river than a lake. Built in 1960, it reaches a depth of 18 feet and is largely used for recreational purposes.
Swimming is banned in the lake by city ordinance, due in large part to the number of drownings that have happened there over the years. The lake connects with the Colorado River, and on a number of occasions people have been pulled under by the strong currents.
At least two of the 10 deaths that occurred in the past 20 months were accidental drownings, according to the Travis County Medical Examiner.
The Austin Police Department reported no evidence of foul play in four of the other deaths:
- Ricky Parks: July 14, 2022
- Christopher Gutierrez: Dec. 10, 2022
- Kyle Thornton: Dec. 28, 2022
- Christopher Hays-Clark: April 15, 2023
Two deaths were not being investigated as homicides, according to police:
- Mogga Dogale: June 27, 2023
- Unidentified Female: Feb. 5, 2023
Police discovered Josue Moreno dead inside a partially submerged truck on Dec. 19, 2022. An investigation determined that someone shot Moreno while he was driving alongside the lake and his truck went through a guardrail and off a bridge into the body of water. Police arrested 19-year-old Joel Santiago Gonzalez-Paron in Moreno's killing in February 2023. According to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by KXAN-TV, authorities said Gonzalez-Paron told them he thought someone else was in the truck that Moreno was operating that ended up crashing into the lake.
On March 5, 2023, police discovered the body of Clifton Axtell. The Travis County Medical Examiner could not determine the cause of death in that case, prompting increased speculation about a possible serial killer.
Police did not investigate that death as suspicious.
After a string of deaths in late 2022 and early 2023, police released a statement amid growing speculations.
"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," said the APD in a statement. "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 p.m. and occur after the park closes. We advise the public to follow the rules on park closures."
As of last week, there has not been a body found in the lake for seven months, though in the seven months between December 2022 to June 2023, there were eight bodies found in the waters of Lady Bird Lake.