OPINION: Austin must push safety measures with a killer on the loose


Kaitlynn Devitt / Hilltop Views

The Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail is a 10-mile trail surrounding Lady Bird Lake where several bodies have been discovered after disappearing from Rainey Street. Their deaths are currently under investigation by the Austin Police Department while others believe that Austin may have a serial killer present.

Rumors have been circling on social media, and the news that Austin may have a serial killer present is ever present in online discourse. Since February, two bodies have been recovered from Lady Bird Lake. 

The most recent death was that of Jonathan Honey, who was found on March 31.  Honey’s cause of death is still under investigation. The Austin Police Department released a statement on April 3 saying that they are aware of “speculation regarding the recent drownings in Lady Bird Lake.”

Aside from news outlets and APD statements, several social media platforms are creating groups where people within the community share their thoughts, stories and experiences on the matter. One example of this is a private Facebook group called the Lady Bird Lake Serial Killer/Rainey St Killer

In this group, people share all types of things that relate to this topic. Some even share their stories of being drugged on a night out in Austin. Others share warnings, safety tips and ideas for those who bike/hike on the trails surrounding Lady Bird Lake. 

According to several posts from this group, the victims’ families and friends are saying that they were last seen on Rainey Street. Some even believe that men between the ages of 20-35 have been disappearing from Rainey Street, been reported missing, and then their bodies have been discovered in Lady Bird Lake as far back as 2008. There are even theories that this suspected serial killer is a bartender who slips drugs into people’s drinks and then lures them out at night, away from their friends and family. 

This theory could be true, but I imagine that working as a bartender is a busy job, and it would be impossible for one to drug this many people’s drinks and not get caught. Plus, the amount of cleaning that takes place even after these bars and clubs close would keep this bartender from possibly killing someone.

APD has yet to confirm whether or not there is a serial killer present. But in my opinion, it is too much of a coincidence that all of the bodies being found in Lady Bird Lake are men in their 20s and 30s. Something is obviously going on, and I hope that APD is just trying to downplay things right now until they know for sure to prevent people from panicking.

While these deaths are still under investigation, I believe that the city and community members need to push for safe measures on the trials and areas surrounding Lady Bird Lake. There needs to be more lights installed, stronger fencing around the lake, safety poles where people can call for police assistance and more signage warning people of darker areas on the trails.

To those living in the Austin area, I strongly encourage using a buddy system and never going out alone. Be smart and take as many safety precautions as possible.