Suspect arrested in murder of retired Austin attorney

The Travis County Sheriff's Office has arrested and charged 24-year-old Justin Nickolas Twyne with the murder, a first degree felony, of 74-year-old James Short, a retired Austin attorney.


According to TCSO, deputies responded to a welfare check call on Friday, April 7, 2017 at 8006 Rockwood Circle after family members reported that they had been unable to reach him by phone, which was unusual.

They also told TCSO deputies that James Short was last seen by them on the morning of Thursday, April 6. 

Read TCSO looking for person of interest in the death of retired Austin attorney

When deputies arrived at the residence, the body of James Short was discovered in the bathroom. Austin Travis County Emergency Medical Services responded and pronounced James Short dead at 11:56 am.

Detectives with TCSO ruled the death a homicide as there was obvious trauma to the body, including a stab wound that was consistent with being caused by a knife. The Medical Examiner also ruled James' death as a homicide after performing an autopsy. 

After obtaining a search warrant, detectives searched the residence and found a bloody area in the master bedroom. A knife with blood on it was also found on top of the bed. The bloody knife was examined and a fingerprint was located on the blade, near the handle.

The fingerprint was analyzed and confirmed to belong to Justin Nickolas Twyne. 

Read TCSO investigating suspicious death, man may have been targeted

A black backpack was also found in the living room with items inside it that did not appear to belong to James. 

Detectives examined the contents of the black backpack and discovered several items inside in the name of Justin Nickolas Twyne. There were also records inside with Twyne's cell phone number on it. 

A receipt was also discovered in James' pocket for a purchase at Walmart on Thursday, April 6 at 6:16 pm. A bag from Walmart containing the same items that were listed on the receipt was also found inside the residence. Detectives checked the surveillance video from the Walmart and observed a black male in his twenties walking with James.

James and the male left the store together in James' Chevrolet Suburban, which has still not been located. 

According to TCSO, James' cell phone was found by a male in the roadway near the intersection of Ben White Boulevard and Manchaca Road on Friday, April 7 around 2 pm. Detectives searched the phone and discovered text messages exchanged between James and Twyne in the days prior to his death. 

The two spoke about meeting at James' residence. James provided his address and directions there to Twyne. There were no text messages exchanged between the two after April 6. 

The United States Marshal's Task Force located and arrested Justin Twyne at a hotel in New Orleans on an unrelated escape warrant on Friday, April 7. While searching the hotel room, credit cards in the name of James Short were discovered. 

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