Murder of couple in northwest Austin tent still unsolved

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

AUSTIN (KXAN) — When Charlene Whipple‘s family didn’t hear from her for a couple of days, her sister Michelle Miner said it was usually because her cellphone was dead or she just didn’t get around to calling back.

But, Miner said she became worried after not hearing from her sister last fall and decided to call the Austin Police Department to perform a welfare check.

Authorities ending up locating the bodies of Whipple, 39, and her longtime boyfriend, Samuel Davila, 43, inside a tent in a wooded area off Ranch Road 620, just west of Lakeline Mall, on Sept. 8.

As the couple’s families seek justice for their deaths, APD told KXAN they are still actively investigating and waiting for DNA results related to the case.

“I don’t even know how to describe the feeling, just the waiting and not knowing is the hardest,” Miner said. “Every time we’ve spoken to the two detectives, she has assured us that they are actively working the case, doing many interviews and that they’re still processing evidence. There are days that I am getting very impatient, but I have to put faith [in them].”

Last fall, detectives said both Whipple and Davila had family in the area, but chose to live in a tent in the woods. They believe the couple had been dead for a few days before they were found and that it wasn’t obvious the couple was killed until after an autopsy was conducted.

The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled both deaths as homicides. KXAN requested a copy of the autopsies, but they are not expected to be released due to the ongoing investigation.

“That’s never where your mind goes, you never want to think that someone would deliberately hurt someone that you love, take them away from their kids,” Miner said. “The fact that somebody can be that callous [and] horrible to take another person’s life.”

Miner said grieving the couple’s death has been difficult, especially for Whipple’s three children. She said the youngest kids, ages 10 and 12, have received support through the Christi Center, a local nonprofit that provides free counseling and grief-base support to people who have experienced the death of a loved one.

They’re also thankful for the community’s financial support for the children through a GoFundMe page set up after Charlene’s death.

“The love and support from the public has been great, the generosity and the kindness of others through this horrible tragedy — I just want to find out who did it,” Miner said.

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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