Details of Disappearance Austin was last seen by his father at their home in Montgomery Creek, California at 7:00 a.m. on January 4, 2004. The medication he was taking gave him problems with sleeping and he woke his father up at this time. His father told him to go back to bed, but Austin left the house instead.
His footprints through the snow show that he walked a mile from his house to the Acorn Cafe and an employee saw him go into the establishment twice. Austin was last seen between 9:30 and 10:00 a.m. that day outside the cafe, which is located on Highway 299 in Montgomery Creek. He has never been heard from again. His father reported him missing at noon that same day.
Austin attended a special needs school in Redding, California at the time of his disappearance. His mother died of cancer in 1997, and he lived alone with his father, who is not considered a suspect in his disappearance.
Austin is an only child. He is described as intelligent but shy, withdrawn and easily confused; he may not respond if approached by anyone. He also has difficulty making decisions. Austin's father says the his son's new anti-depressant medication caused him to be more outgoing, talkative and normal in behavior, but that the drug also made him dangerously gullible and trusting.
Austin and his father were going to go on vacation over his school winter break, but inclement weather caused them to cancel their plans and Austin was reportedly very disappointed. He is not thought to have run away from home, however. It is also considered unlikely that he hitchhiked anywhere.
Investigators believe Austin may have tried to go to the Redding Skate Park, which he liked to frequent, but he did not have his skateboard, hacky-sack, or any money with him when he vanished. Austin's sneakers have unusual soles and this made it easy to identify his tracks, which went for over two miles through snow over a foot deep and lead up to the banks of the Pitt River before disappearing.
Investigators are unsure how Austin got to the river; the area is so remote and rugged, it is virtually inaccessible even by law enforcement officials. He had never been to the river before. His father believes he got lost and became disoriented. No sign of Austin or his remains have been found in the water, but because of the circumstances, authorities believe it is likely that he drowned there.
Austin enjoys skateboarding and is a former hacky-sack champion who had played at the state and world levels. His case remains unsolved. In May 2004, a bench was placed at the Redding Skate Park and dedicated in his memory.
- Shasta County Sheriff's Department
Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004. Last updated December 30, 2004.