Gathering Saturday to Remember Missing Austinite
Ten years later, family and APD still searching for Roxanne Paltauf
By Chase Hoffberger,
12:50PM, Thu. Jul. 7, 2016
Friends and family of Roxanne Paltauf gather Saturday, July 9, at 10am on the 9400 block of North Creek Drive to commemorate the tenth anniversary of her disappearance. Paltauf, who was 18 when she went missing, was last seen by her boyfriend Louis Walls at the nearby Budget Inn.
Walls, who was 30 when Paltauf went missing, told her family later that evening – and later reiterated to police – that Paltauf left the motel room they’d rented at 8:30pm that July after the two got into an argument. She went to cool off, he said, leaving her cell phone, purse, and money, and never returned. (Walls did not return those possessions, and in fact made hundreds of calls on Paltauf’s cell phone over a span of a few days, for a week.) Paltauf’s family has long doubted Walls’ account, however, and quite often pointed to Walls as the believed killer. Former Chronicle reporter Jordan Smith detailed the myriad reasons to suspect Walls’ actions and motivations in her July 2009 feature on Paltauf’s disappearance, "All That Remains."
Though no arrests have been made and Paltauf’s family cannot say for certain whether their daughter and sister is fact deceased, the case has seen its share of action. In 2014, after APD received what could be considered a credible tip about “a body” potentially buried “in a shallow grave,” the department teamed with the FBI to run a search on a 10-acre tract of land nearby. APD Detective Richard Faithful, who heads the case from the department’s Cold Case unit (the investigation is a joint effort between that unit and Missing Persons), said that he continues to receive tips ten years later, but has rarely been able to act on anything for lack of “viable evidence.”
“A lot of it is stuff heard on the street,” said Faithful. “We’ll follow up on tips, but it’s all hearsay.” He said he remains open-minded, but that “the cop in me” points to Walls as the culprit. “If somebody comes up with something else, great. We’ll follow it.” The department continues looking for not only remains of a body but also evidence and eyewitness accounts that could indicate what truly happened to Paltauf on that night. He said he’s made “many attempts” to connect with Walls, even recently, but that Walls continues evading him – sometimes even showing up to a meeting location Faithful tricked him into going to only to shout obscenities at the detective and leave the scene without talking.
Paltauf’s family hasn’t had as much luck avoiding Roxanne’s ex-boyfriend. Her sister, Rosalynn, notes how the 40-year-old continues showing up in their lives, whether through the propagation of rumors – many from his friends – or even in person.
“I’ve run into him,” she said. “He’s had several girlfriends. If you remember Tamale House on Airport: We grew up in that neighborhood. I remember one morning getting my tacos. Sure enough, he was right behind me. That was six years after she disappeared.”
Anybody with information of Paltauf’s whereabouts can call APD’s Missing Persons Unit at 512/974-5250 or Crime Stoppers, 512/472-8477.