Couple found murdered in tent in northwest Austin

Charlene Whipple and Samuel Davila (Courtesy: Davila & Whipple Family)
Charlene Whipple and Samuel Davila (Courtesy: Davila & Whipple Family)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A man and woman who were found dead in a wooded area off Ranch Road 620, just west of Lakeline Mall, Thursday afternoon were murdered, according to the Austin Police Department.

Police say on Sept. 8, they were called out to the area around 5 p.m. for a check welfare. Family called police after not hearing from the two for a while. When the officers arrived, family directed officers to a tent where they found the bodies of Samuel Davila, 43, and Charlene Whipple, 39. Detectives believe the couple had been dead for a few days before they were found.

“Both persons had family that lived here in the Austin-area but these two individuals chose to live in a tent in the woods,” says Austin Police Detective Jerry Bauzon.

Field on 620 near Lakeline Mall where two bodies were found in a tent (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)
Field on 620 near Lakeline Mall where two bodies were found in a tent (KXAN Photo/Lauren Kravets)

“We do have transient camps and homeless camps, but this does not look appear to be a camp that is saturated with homeless persons, this seems to be a secluded area with this campsite alone,” continues Bauzon.

The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled both deaths as homicides. Police would not elaborate on how the couple died, but did say it wasn’t obvious they were killed until after an autopsy was conducted. Investigators do not yet have a motive and no suspects have been arrested at this time, but detectives say they are interviewing other transients in the area for any information that may lead them to the couple’s killer.

Samuel’s brother, JD Davila said he hadn’t seen his brother nor Whipple in a while. JD says Whipple went to their same church as a kid.

“He was always more comfortable outdoors,” explains JD Davila. “They were fun-loving and mostly carefree on the surface.”

Family members have indicated both victims battled addictions. Detectives say they’re not sure at this point if drugs were a factor in the murders.

“If you’re going to cause an untimely death of someone else, that’s going to haunt you,” said JD. “I mean either you get justice in this life or the next.”

Whipple’s family says she left behind three children. “We are asking the public to come forward with any information about the circumstances surrounding her death, as we are hoping to bring some closure for her children and our family,” said the Whipple family in a statement.

Whipple’s family has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for funeral costs. Davila’s friends and family have also created a GoFundMe page.

Detectives are asking anyone with any information regarding this incident to call the Homicide Tip Line at 512-477-3588 or Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS or text “Tip 103” + your message to CRIMES. There is a $1,000 reward being offered by Crime Stoppers.

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