AUSTIN, Texas - The Austin Police Department is investigating a suspicious death involving a body found in the backyard of a southwest Austin home.
Walker Ray Kaatz and Kristie Cardenas have been arrested for second-degree felony tampering with physical evidence.
According to the warrant, a woman called APD Tuesday night and said that she had visited Cardenas at a home on Mojave Drive where a man was buried in the backyard.
The woman also reported that Cardenas told her "it happened" inside the house and that Kaatz had shown her drag marks where they removed the body from the home and told her they had "bleached" the marks, says the warrant.
The woman spoke with officers and according to the warrant, told them that Cardenas said during her visit that she had paid to get the man out of jail and when he was released, he had assaulted her.
(Austin Police Department)
Cardenas then showed the woman a concrete mass in the shape of a body surrounded by cinder blocks in the backyard, according to the warrant, where he was reportedly buried.
The next day, officers and a homicide detective visited the home and spoke with Kaatz and Cardenas. The detective informed Cardenas that APD had received the tip about the body, but she denied speaking to anyone, says the warrant.
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The detective spoke with Kaatz, who told him that he had seen the man assault Cardenas several times since he was released from jail about two weeks prior, including strangling and dragging her by the hair.
According to the warrant, Kaatz gave officers consent to search the home and in the backyard, the detective found the concrete mass and cinder block area in the backyard, also noting a large bottle of lighter fluid on top of a cinder block and pile of an unknown burnt substance on top of the concrete mass.
(Austin Police Department)
The warrant says a shovel, two gardening hoes, two large bags of concrete mix and a red industrial-sized dolly were found nearby.
A search warrant was obtained for the property and cars parked in the driveway and according to APD, homicide detectives, crime scene specialists, APD Bomb Squad, and the Austin Fire Department participated in an excavation at the site. A cadaver dog also alerted to the odor of decomposition at the site.
According to the warrant, a family member of Kaatz’s told detectives that Kaatz had told him about the investigation and asked him to take him to a bank so he could withdraw funds to purchase a vehicle and leave town.
Another witness told investigators at the scene that she had recently seen Kaatz unloading cinder blocks from a Home Depot rental truck at the home, says the warrant.
The body has been transported to the Travis County Medical Examiner's office for examination and official ruling on cause and manner of death. The identity of the deceased person is not being released until next of kin has been notified.
The incident, according to APD, appears to be isolated to those involved with no threat to the public.
According to court records, Kaatz is scheduled to be in court on two other charges: unlawful carrying of a weapon and driving while intoxicated.
Detectives are asking anyone with video/photos of the incident to call APD Homicide at 512-974-TIPS, the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at 512-472-8477 (TIPS), use the new Crime Stoppers App, email APD Homicide or use APD's mobile app, Austin PD. All tips can be submitted anonymously.