Clusters of Vanishing Victims Ignite Serial Killer Fears

( – Friday July 14, Rex Heuermann was arrested in connection with suspected serial killer murders that took place between 1996 and 2011. These were known as the Gilgo Beach serial killings, and the press had referred to the murderer as the Long Island Serial Killer (LISK). The community was afraid for decades as people went missing, or bodies were discovered over the course of 15 years.

Now, there are two other communities wondering if there is a serial killer in their midst as they note clusters of missing people from the area of Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas and also across the country in and around Portland, Oregon. Portland has been plagued with crime and seen staggering rises in homelessness and drug addiction. They’ve also shattered their own murder record twice in the last 2 years. Previously, their worst year was 1987 with 70 homicides. In 2021 they had 92, and in 2022 they had 101 recorded homicides.

In Austin, there have been five men found dead in Lady Bird Lake within 6 months. The lake is actually a portion of the Colorado River which runs through downtown Austin. All of the men have been in the 30s or near that age and had been drinking on Rainey Street. They were later found dead in the water. Safety and security measures have been enacted at the waterfront in the form of fencing, lighting and increased patrols. The police believe these deaths to have been accidents, not homicide.

In the Portland area, the cases seem more random although the victims do have similarities to each other. They all seem to be young women who have struggled with homelessness and drug addiction. Unlike in Austin, though, they have all been found in different locations. Only one, Joanna Speaks, has been ruled a homicide. Speaks disappeared from the streets in March only to be found dead from a blunt force trauma in April. The police say there is no evidence connecting any of the deaths. While serial killers may be active in any city at any given time, senseless deaths do not have to be all caused by the same person to be a tragedy.

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