Another Austin Dispatch Before Going West

by Travis Mateer

I’m going to just paste some stuff from the book-in-progress to save myself the time of re-phrasing what I’ve already written. This portion is edited, though, because not all the cards I’m holding can be made public yet.


I began the day parking near Ladybird Lake, strapped on my Rollerblades, and proceeded to roll through the hot Texas air already flirting with triple digits.

I got near the water and saw a work crew with City Water taking a break. I also needed a break, so I stopped and struck up a conversation. The man I talked to had worked for the city for 15 years, but he hadn’t heard of the series of deaths associated under either the “Smiley Face” label, or the “Roofie Killer” label. He had heard of a serial killer suspected of operating along the Colorado river, and showed me a link.

The more interesting story he shared with me involved his daughter and a nut who fixated on her after seeing her at a local drum circle. This obsession resulted in this guy firing shots at her car (which just happened back in Missoula, on the Northside of town), which you would think might interest cops to, you know, maybe arrest him or something. Nope. Despite a literal bullet lodged in his daughter’s car, it wasn’t until continued threats were directed at the entire drum circle that police finally did something, and it wasn’t much.

“They should just tell us up front they won’t do anything, so we can take care of it ourselves,” the guy said. Yep, vigilantism is brewing here in Austin as well, not surprising. “We defunded the police here,” he added, “which doesn’t help”. Yep.

I asked for directions to food locations, and he gave me the general direction to go, which is good, because I was an idiot and didn’t bring water. When I found a convenience store, the graffiti required documenting, but only AFTER I got my water. Then I rolled on.

Right next to the convenience store I saw a funeral home. Perfect, I thought, and rolled up to the door. It was locked, so I start dialing the number when the door opened. I ended up spending nearly 15 minutes talking to a VERY nice funeral home operator, which was a different experience than talking to the assholes running the ONE option for funeral homes in Missoula during the bullshit with Rebekah Barsotti’s body getting cremated AGAINST her mother’s wishes.

In Travis County (yes, Travis County, next door to Williamson County, of course), the medical examiner is SEPARATE from the Sheriff’s Office, but that is not the case in every county in Texas. Smaller counties, in terms of population, have less resources, so may combine coroner duties with a Sheriff’s Office.

We talked about the corruption potential of these various frameworks and both of us agreed it can ALL be easily corrupted, and probably has been. The oversight in Texas, at the state level, is, get this, the Texas Rangers. Fantastic. 

The funeral home guy was so nice and helpful, he even gave me a suggestion of looking into the Texas Civil Liberties Union, because they sometimes take cases in other states. He was familiar with a case they took in New York.

I had lunch downtown and the server was from Costa Rica, so she didn’t know anything about Smiley Face stuff. She asked me if I had been to Costa Rica, and I said yes, with my wife who soon won’t be my wife anymore. It was one of my favorite trips, which makes me incredibly sad now to think about.

Like most of our trips back then, there were plenty of nights I drank too much wine, and one night, in Jaco, I got held up and my money taken after TOO MUCH white wine at the hostel we were staying at. I remember getting loud, obnoxious, and naked in the pool later that night, upset my attempt to get weed failed so miserably, when what I SHOULD have been thinking is thank GOD the knife the guy was poking me with didn’t break my skin. 

Drinking alcohol compromised Sean’s safety, and drinking alcohol has apparently compromised the safety of those young men who haven gone missing in different places across the country, then showed up dead in water.

I have a strong suspicion bartenders, or those associated with 6th street bars, are involved. My walk up and down this stretch of BARS BARS BARS everywhere not only creeped me out, there were literal bar-barkers standing outside bars as hired staff trying to get customers to enter their establishments, like the Chupacabra.


Here are some more pics from my walk around downtown Austin. I now have a theory I’m mulling over regarding the function of these deaths. Stay tuned.

If you would like to help support my travel-writing project, you can use Travis’ Impact Fund (TIF), or the donation button at my about page.

Thanks for reading!

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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1 Response to Another Austin Dispatch Before Going West

  1. The graffiti, which required documentation, is some of the best I’ve ever seen. I especially liked the artist at the left spray-painting his eyeballs. Nice touch!

    Sounds like you are having a great trip.

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