BUENA VISTA, Va. – The number 33 holds a special place for the family of Chad Austin. He wore the number on the field during his time as a football player at Parry McCluer High School. Friday would have been Chad’s 33rd birthday.
Over the years, his family has been searching for answers after his death.
“To even fathom that our son’s life was taken so early is so hard for our family to bear,” Chad’s Mother Ellen Austin said in a press conference in 2020.
Chad was last seen in May 2019 by campers in the Panther Falls area off the Blue Ridge Parkway.
His remains were later found at the site. Family members and law enforcement held a news conference there last year and said that they were close to finding more answers in his case.
“I believe there is a group of people who knows what happened to Chad Austin the day he went missing and they were there when his death was caused,” said Virginia State Police Special Agent Kevin Zirkle in 2020.
Six months after the extensive search for Chad, his wallet turned up in that exact area. Investigators believe someone brought the wallet back. They believe one person killed him, but several were there when it happened.
Text messages also show that Chad was anticipating a confrontation in the days leading up to his death.
“We are getting closer. You have not gotten away with anything. We are making progress every single day,” Zirkle said in 2020.
His mother Ellen shared a message on social media, asking Chad’s story not to be forgotten.
Virginia State Police said several leads have been made in the case, but details can’t be provided yet in hopes of maintaining the investigation.
See our previous reporting below: