Chad Austin's body was found near Panther Falls in Lexington, Virginia.

By Chris Harris
May 20, 2020 11:33 AM
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Chad Austin
| Credit: Bring Chad Austin Home Facebook

Authorities in Virginia say they have recovered the skeletal remains of a 30-year-old man who vanished nearly a year ago on a hike — and investigators are investigating his death as a homicide.

In a release issued Monday, the Virginia State Police confirmed Chad Austin's body was found near Panther Falls in Lexington, Virginia.

Austin was reported missing in May 2019, and was last seen by campers over Memorial Day weekend of that year. His remains were found in March of this year.

Detectives from the Buena Vista Police Department had developed new information in the case which led them back to the area around the popular waterfall.

Forensic investigators have collected personal property and other unspecified evidence during the investigation.

The day after he was last seen, authorities found his vehicle abandoned near the falls. His dog was alive inside the vehicle.

Over the subsequent week, the sheriff's office recovered a set of Austin's keys as well as other personal items.

At this point, police have not disclosed how Austin died.

They've not said why they believe he was intentionally killed.

Investigators are confident someone in the surrounding community has critical information that could lead to an arrest of those responsible.

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In recent weeks, several tips have been called into the sheriff's department.

Anyone with any information on Austin's disappearance and death is urged to call the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation at (800) 542-5959 or (540) 375-9589.

Information can also be emailed to questions@vsp.virginia.gov.