May 24, 2024

Austin residents fear a serial killer may be on the loose after the eighth body in just ten months was pulled from a lake in the city. 

John Christopher Hays-Clark, 30, was the latest person to be found dead in Austin’s Lady Bird Lake on Saturday.

Texas police patrolled the waters by boat after several people reported an unresponsive person in the lake around 1pm. His identity was confirmed on Monday. It is unclear how long his body had been in the water.

Earlier this month, 33-year-old Jonathan Honey was found dead on April 1. Cliff Axtell, 40, was discovered on March 5, and Jason John, 30, was found on February 13. A further four unidentified bodies have been recovered from the lake in the past 10 months, according to Chron.

Terrified residents have since set up Facebook groups and taken to TikTok to voice their growing fears that the deaths may be connected.  

Four bodies have been found in Austin’s Lady Bird Lake this year. Earlier this month, 33-year-old Jonathan Honey (pictured) was found dead on April 1

Jason John, 30, was found on February 13 after he was last seen on Rainey Street a week earlier. His parents believe there is more to the story behind his disappearance

Cliff Axtell, 40, was found in Lady Bird Lake on March 5 after he went missing near Stubb’s in downtown on February 25. He left behind his wife and two kids

Investigators claimed they do not suspect foul play at this point in the investigation – but with so many bodies found in quick succession, residents remain fearful. 

A private Facebook group called Lady Bird Lake Serial Killer with more than 50,000 followers was created when Jason John’s body was discovered in February. 

The autopsies for the men who died this year were not available, but police said their bodies showed no signs of trauma. 

Austin police said the cases remain under investigation, with evidence being analyzed. They added that the cases shared a ‘combination of alcohol’ and ‘easy access’ points to the lake, which can be hard to see at night.

However, they claim that while each incident occurred at the lake, ‘the circumstances, exact locations, and demographics surrounding these cases vary.’  

Investigators have not released details regarding the whereabouts of all the men before their deaths – but have revealed both Jonathan and Jason were seen on Rainey Street before their separate disappearances. 

Rainey Street is a vibrant area in Austin known for its night life and boasts an array of bars, food trucks and restaurants. 

Lady Bird Lake is about 1.8 miles, or a 35-minute walk away from the street. There are no cameras around the lake.

Jason John’s family believe there is more to the story behind their son’s death and think the four men are somehow connected. He was last seen walking home 

‘Jason was 30. Jonathan Honey was 33. 2 in the morning. Rainey Street. So there were some similarities in the case,’ Elsie John, Jason John’s mother, told Fox7.

Elsie added that she doesn’t agree with the  initial ruling that no foul play was involved. She fears more men might end up dead.

‘We definitely don’t agree with that,’ she said. ‘We don’t know how many Jasons, how many Martins, and how many Jonathans are going to be losing their lives again. And this is not acceptable.’ 

Meanwhile, Cliff Axtell, 40, was identified by his sister on Facebook. Axtell, who was a married father-of-two, was found in the lake on March 5 after he went missing near Stubb’s in downtown on February 25.

Lady Bird Lake is about 1.8 miles, or a 35-minute walk away from the street. There are no cameras around the lake

Police were seen patrolling the lake after a fourth body, belonging to John Christopher Hays-Clark, 30, was found on Saturday. A photo of John wasn’t immediately available

Johnathan Honey was last seen at a food truck on Rainey Street before disappearing 

 Jason Jones was also last seen on Rainey Street before his disappearance 

Rainey Street (above) is a vibrant area in Austin known for its night life and offerings of bars, food trucks and restaurants. Lady Bird Lake is about 1.8 miles, or 35-minute walk away from the street. There are no camera’s around the lake

Other bodies previously found in the lake include 22-year-old Julio Santos in 2015 and 25-year-old Martin Gutierrez in 2018. Martin was found with several injuries after landing in the lake following a night out at Rainey Street

Christian Pugh, 21, was found alive in the lake back in 2019 but in ‘rough’ condition. He sustained a blow to the head and bruised hands

Other bodies previously found in the lake include 22-year-old Julio Santos in 2015 and 25-year-old Martin Gutierrez in 2018.

Christian Pugh, 21, was found alive in the lake back in 2019 but in ‘rough’ condition. He sustained a hit to the head and bruised hands. 

Gutierrez was found with several injuries after landing in the lake following a night out at Rainey Street – the same place Honey was last seen – his brother, Mitchell, previously told the news outlet. 

Austin residents have been left fearful over the multiple incidents and are warning others to stay safe. 

Several people urged others to not visit Rainey Street alone and to stay with another person at all times.

Others have also taken their concerns to TikTok by creating videos warning of an alleged serial killer as questions about the men’s disappearances remain unanswered. 

‘Is there a serial killer among us?’ one TikToker asked.

Preliminary findings showed no foul play was involved. But the investigation is ongoing

Lady Bird Lake is a popular Austin destination for water activities, including kayaking

Some have pointed out that the circumstances the men were found in resemble those of the Smiley Face Killers

These deaths began in 1997 and all bore striking similarities. Most of the men were young, athletic and academically high achievers. 

According to retired NYPD Detective Kevin Gannon and his team of investigators, they have evidence that 100 of the men may have been murdered by a gang.

A key piece of evidence is that the team found smiley face graffiti symbols at all of the sites where the bodies were recovered.

Gannon started working on the issue in 1997 when the parents of a New Yorker who had been found dead in water pleaded with him to find out what had really happened to their son.

Among the deaths they believe are suspicious is that of Dakota James, a 24-year-old who was found dead in the Ohio River after a night out with his friends in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in January 2017.

Police said he likely fell into the river while walking over an overpass on his way home. But there was no damage to his body, which would have been likely if he had been in the river for more than a month – the amount of time that passed between him vanishing and his body being found.

Some autopsies of the victims, including William Hurley in 2009, showed alcohol and a hypnotic depressant – which is used as a date rape drug – in their systems. 

The gang of Smiley Face Killers left clues at murder sites. The clues: At all of the sites where the bodies were found there have been spray painted smiley faces on surfaces nearby