AMHERST COUNTY, Va. – The Virginia State Police held a press conference Wednesday afternoon regarding the 2019 disappearance and death of a missing Buena Vista man.
Police provide update on the death of missing Buena Vista man
The Virginia State Police will hold a press conference regarding the 2019 disappearance and death of a missing Buena Vista man.Posted by WSLS 10 / WSLS.com on Wednesday, October 21, 2020
In March, authorities found the remains of Chad Austin in the greater Panther Falls area, according to a news release distributed in May.
Police released that on May 28, 2019, police found Austin’s silver 2006 Hyundai Tiburon abandoned about 2 miles down the turnoff for Panther Falls Road. His dog Gunner was found unharmed but locked inside the car.
Authorities said they searched the immediate area located several of his personal items including two knives with the blade in the open position. According to police, forensic evidence shows that a struggle between Austin and his killer took place that ultimately led to his death.
His wallet “turned up” at Pather Falls six months after Austin was reported missing, authorities said.
“We especially want to hear from the individual(s) who returned Chad’s wallet to the scene more than six months after his disappearance,” said Special Agent Kevin Zirkle. “It was not overlooked on previous searches of that area. We know it was intentionally placed there and, perhaps, there is a very reasonable explanation. We have been trying to figure out why that person, though, has not contacted us yet.”
State police were also able to confirm through texts on Austin’s phone that he was anticipating being confronted by people who were determined to settle a disagreement to him a few days leading up to his death, authorities said.
“We have no reason whatsoever to believe that Chad was looking for trouble, but we do know that he had a reason to suspect a confrontation was inevitable. We know there are additional people in the Buena Vista community who know certain pieces of information related to Chad’s death, but are fearful to come forward for a number of reasons,” said Zirkle.
Virginia police were joined by local law enforcement and Austin’s family at the press conference, including his mother Ellen Austin as Thursday marks what would have been his 32nd birthday.
“To have Chad missing for a year and then to find out your son is dead has been horrific. Some were saying that at least you found him, but that doesn’t even begin to help us have closure because there are still so many unanswered questions. That’s why we need your help - everyone’s help,” Austin’s mom, Ellen said to members of the press.
The press conference was held in the Panther Falls recreational area where Austin was last seen alive and where his remains were recovered.