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The Unsolved Austin Yogurt Shop Murders

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Case File Overview

On December 6, 1991 fifteen-year-old Sarah Harbison and her thirteen-year-old friend Amy Ayers were hanging out at Northcross Mall in Austin, Texas

They were killing time on the chilly Friday night until Sarah’s sister Jennifer and her school friend and co-worker Eliza Thomas, both seventeen, were done their late shift at the “I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt!” shop located in the Hillside strip mall in the 2900 block of West Anderson Lane. 

L-R: Jennifer Harbison; Sara Harbison; Amy Ayers; and Eliza Thomas

Photo of Austin yogurt shop murder victims
Source: CBS News

Sometime after 10:00PM, Sarah and Amy made their way the few blocks to the yogurt shop from the mall to help close up. After the store closed at 11:00PM all four girls had plans to go to a slumber party. 

Just before midnight, Austin Police Department officer Troy Gay noticed smoke rising from the strip mall while out on patrol. The officer reported the fire and firefighters soon arrived on scene. As they were extinguishing the blaze, they came across a horrific sight. 

Jennifer, Sara, Amy, and Eliza were dead. All of the girls were naked and bound and gagged with their own clothing. Amy’s body was discovered in the middle of the back room, while Jennifer, Sara, and Eliza were found in the rear of the back room clustered into one corner. Eliza and Sarah were stacked on top of each other while Jennifer lay close by. 

Crime scene diagram

Diagram of the Austin yogurt shop crime scene
Source: The Austin Chronicle

The girls’ legs were spread wide open and an ice cream scoop was placed between one of their legs. Their bodies were burned almost beyond recognition, as the killer or killers had collected napkins and other flammable items from around the shop and had doused them and the bodies with lighter fluid before lighting the shop ablaze and fleeing. 

Autopsies done on the girls uncovered they were all shot in the back of the head execution-style. And at least two of the girls had been raped. Authorities also informed the media that two guns had been used to commit the murders, suggesting there may have been at least two perpetrators. 

The yogurt shop management and police investigators determined there was approximately $540 missing from the store. 

Despite a lengthy police investigation by lead detective John Jones and his partner Mike Huckabay, numerous suspects, and an outraged community, these appalling murders remain unsolved. 

Case File Theories

From the start, there were a number of issues with the investigation. First off, the firemen who responded to the call did their job…and in the process potentially washed away precious forensic evidence. Even more, in the early 1990s Austin lacked forensic expertise, having only one fingerprint unit. Plus with the small size of the city’s homicide squad there was only one homicide investigator on shift the night of the murders. 

Crime scene

Photo of the Austin yogurt shop unsolved murders crime scene
Source: New York Post

Regardless of the department’s shortfalls, Jones and Huckabay had more than their fair share of suspects. The phones at the police station rang off the hook as tips flooded in. The investigators were understandably overwhelmed when confronted with 342 suspects and dozens of false confessions. 

Considering the horrific nature of the crime as well as the staging of the bodies, the investigators first looked into serial killers who may have been at work in the area….which led them to Kenneth Allen McDuff. 

Kenneth Allen McDuff

McDuff was a Texas serial killer suspected of at least fourteen murders. He was convicted of murdering three teens on August 6, 1966: Robert Brand, Mark Dunman, and Edna Louis Sullivan. These killings were dubbed the Broomstick Murders because Edna’s neck was broken with a broomstick after she was repeatedly raped. 

Kenneth McDuff

Serial Killer Kenneth McDuff
Source: Wikipedia

McDuff was sentenced to death, but his sentence was changed to life with the possibility of parole in 1972 after the US Supreme Court abolished capital punishment in a 5-4 decision. Due to prison overcrowding, McDuff was paroled in 1989. It is now believed that after his release McDuff committed many other murders, including the killing of Melissa Ann Northrup, a 22-year-old Texan, in 1992. After evading capture for years, McDuff was finally taken into custody and sent to death row. 

On November 17, 1998, the day of his execution, McDuff confessed to the yogurt shop murders. If he thought this last-minute confession was going to spare his life he was mistaken. His execution was carried out that day as scheduled. After McDuff’s death, the authorities investigated his confession but ruled him out when fingerprints and hair collected from the yogurt shop could not be linked back to him. 

Maurice Pierce 

Eight days after the murders, the investigators got a tip to look into a teenager named Maurice Pierce. The sixteen-year-old was seen at the Northcross Mall with a gun on the very same night Sarah and Amy were hanging out there before they headed the yogurt shop. The gun was a .22-caliber handgun – the same caliber as one of the guns used to execute the girls.

But when Jones and Huckabay questioned Pierce along with the three friends he was with at the mall – Michael Scott, Robert Springsteen, and Forrest Welborn – nothing came of the lead. 

When Pierce’s gun was tested, the ballistics showed it did not match the murder weapon. Also, just like with McDuff, the fingerprints and hair collected from the crime scene did not match any of the four teens. Eventually, the investigators moved on. 

1999 Arrests

Years went by with no arrests, so the case was passed on to new detectives. Then in 1999 four suspects in their twenties were taken into custody for the murders – Forrest Welborn, Michael Scott, Robert Springsteen, and Maurice Pierce – the same suspects who were questioned eight days after the girls were killed and released due to a lack of evidence. 

L-R: Robert Burns Springsteen, Jr.; Maurice Earl Pierce; Forrest Brook Wellborn; and Michael James Scott

Austin yogurt shop murders suspect
Source: New York Post

One of the suspects, Michael Scott, confessed to the killings. And he was not alone; Robert Springsteen also confessed to killing the girls and raping one of them. After the confessions, the police were convinced they had their killers. 

The theory was that the four had planned to rob the yogurt shop. Scott, Springsteen, and Pierce entered the shop while Welborn waited outside and served as a lookout. But then something went very wrong during the robbery and all of the girls were killed. 

The authorities tried twice to indict Welborn for the murders, but they lacked the evidence to link him to the crime, so all charges against him were dropped. Charges against Pierce were also dropped due to a lack of evidence, which was particularly hard for the police and the victims’ families to take as he was considered the mastermind behind the crime and the subsequent killings. 

Springsteen and Scott were tried separately for the yogurt shop killings and both were found guilty of capital murder. Springsteen received the death penalty, which was possible even after the Supreme Court ruling in 1972 because the State of Texas had passed a new death penalty statute, whereas Michael Scott was sentenced to 99 years in prison. 

However, not long after their trials serious concerns were raised that suggested Springsteen and Scott may have been innocent. To start, there was no physical evidence linking either of them to the crime. Additionally, both men said their confessions had been coerced. And there was some evidence to back up their claims. One of the detectives on the case was transferred after he allegedly extorted confessions in an unrelated case. And a photo came to light of another member of the Austin Police Department pointing a gun at Scott’s head during his interrogation. 

Roughly fifteen years after the yogurt shop killings were committed, both convictions were overturned when the courts found they violated Springsteen and Scott’s Sixth Amendment right to confront their accuser. Scott and Springsteen’s confessions were used against one another at trial, but their lawyers were never given the opportunity to cross examine the accuser. As a result, it was determined their constitutional rights had been violated.

Later, in 2008, DNA testing was done on the evidence collected from the crime scene and the male DNA found did not match Scott and Springsteen, or any of the other men suspected of the crime for that matter. 

Then-Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said even though she was sure Scott and Springsteen were responsible for the yogurt shop murder, the men would not be re-prosecuted until the unknown male connected to the DNA evidence was found. 

Most of the authorities still believe they had the right four guys all along, and that a fifth man must have helped perpetrate the crime, explaining away the unknown DNA evidence. But the defense attorneys for Scott and Springsteen call the fifth man theory ridiculous and stress that no one ever mentioned a fifth participant until the “inconvenient” DNA results came in. 

Unidentified Customers 

Some of the lawyers, investigators, family members, and armchair detectives who have studied this case think the killers are actually two yet unidentified customers who were in the yogurt shop at closing time. The police apparently interviewed 52 customers who visited the store on the day of the murders, but two men who witnesses placed there at closing time have never been found. 

Three customers who left the store just before closing said on their way out they noticed two men sitting in a booth not looking like they were leaving any time soon. The men may have ordered a soft drink. At least one of the customers then saw Jennifer lock the front door and put up the closed sign so no more customers would enter while her and her co-worker closed up the store. The two men in the booth remained behind after all of the other customers left. 

Witnesses described the persons of interest as follows: “One has lighter hair, maybe like a dirty blond, and is about 5 foot 6 … in his late 20s, early 30s. The other is described as a bigger man. Both were wearing bigger coats…one had a green coat…army-fatigue kind of looking jacket, the other had a black jacket.” To this day, neither of these men have been identified. 

In the end, it is questionable if robbery was ever really the motive in this case. Given the small amount of money taken and the extreme level of violence, it is hard to imagine that these murders were merely the result of a robbery gone bad. 

It is much more likely the crime was sexually motivated and the killers grabbed the money as an afterthought. One of the girls may have known the killers or maybe Sarah and Amy were followed from the mall to the yogurt shop. Regardless, it is doubtful Springsteen, Pierce, Wellborn, and Scott had anything to do with the murders. The key to solving this case potentially rests with linking the DNA evidence found at the scene to the two male customers seen by witnesses lingering in the yogurt shop after closing. 

Who do you think is responsible for the Austin yogurt shop murders?

The 1991 yogurt shop murders changed Austin forever. The then-mayor called the murders “the crime where Austin lost its innocence.” The violent and sudden loss of four young girls with their entire lives ahead of them caused residents to question the safety of their city. 

Memorial plaque

Memorial plaque in the Austin yogurt shop murders

The “I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt!” shop became a nail salon, but a plaque remains in the parking lot under an old oak tree memorializing Jennifer Harbison, Sara Harbison, Amy Ayers, and Eliza Thomas…and reminding all those who pass by that justice has yet to be served. 

If you have any information that can help solve this case, please call 512-472-TIPS. 


“‘Pure, Unadulterated Evil’: Exploring the 1991 Austin Yogurt Shop Murders.” KVUE ABC, May 3, 2019. 

“The Austin Yogurt Shop Murders Cold Case: Revisiting the Scene of the Crime More Than 25 Years Later.” A&E, April 10, 2018. 

“Cruelly Slain: The Brutal Austin Yogurt Shop Murders of 1991 Remain Unsolved Decades Later.” The Lineup, March 28, 2018. 

“5 Unsolved Mass Murders.” Morbidology, November 2, 2017. 

Who Killed These Girls?  Beverly Lowry, July 25, 2017.

“Innocence Lost.” 48 Hours, January 21, 2017. 

“25 Years Later, Still No Clear Answers in the Yogurt Shop Murders Case.” KUT 90.5, December 6, 2016. 

“Inside the Nightmarish ‘Yogurt Shop Murders’.” New York Post, October 7, 2016. 

“The 1991 Yogurt Shop Murders.” True Crime Diva, May 11, 2015. 

“Scene of the Crime.” The Austin Chronicle, December 16, 2011. 

“Kenneth Allen McDuff.” Murderpedia, n.d. 

Interested in cold cases? Check out the Audio File of the unexplained disappearance of the Sodder children and the slaying of Patricia Denise Palmer.

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Published inUnsolved Murder Files



  1. Sean Leckie Sean Leckie

    Man, what a convoluted and unfortunate tale. Thank you for sharing, as always.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Sean – A very happy New Year to you and your family. Thanks for reading. Yes, this is a heartbreaking and convoluted case. The poor families thinking they finally had justice…but then maybe not. I can’t even imagine. Take care. ~ Christine

      • D.N.A. is existent. Wait, the person will f up.

        • Patrick Patrick

          Very good synopsis. I just finished the one book tonight but it was published in 2005 so it didn’t have the part about the convictions being overturned.
          I’m guessing that, at some point, that DNA sample will somehow be uploaded to one of the ancestry sites and, perhaps, the investigators can narrow things down and draw up a list. But everything takes time. This crime needs to be solved.

          • Christine Christine

            Hi Patrick – Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. I agree… it’s beyond time this case be solved and DNA will likely be the answer. Here’s hoping that happens soon for the loved ones left behind and the community as a whole. Take care ~ Christine

    • Netcurrentassetvalue Netcurrentassetvalue

      I believe Kenneth McDuff and an accomplice committed these murders. This article states that McDuff’s execution day confession was rejected because fingerprints and hair samples did not match. Another account states that McDuff was interviewed about his confession but got some details of the crime wrong. I find both of these stories unconvincing.

      I think APD needs to re-examine painstakingly every interaction they had with McDuff and every word spoken to the extent a record exists. Did they speak with McDuff in 1991 or 1992? Did they get a DNA sample? Can they get one now? Who was known to be an accomplice of McDuff and have they been interviewed?

  2. celine carter celine carter

    wow just came across this website and became interested in this case anyway in my opinion i think the 4 boys who got interviewed must be hiding something because it sound strange. Why would they confess to a crime that they haven’t committed so to me i think they must know what really happened that night and might also know the real 2 suspects that committed the brutal attack on these poor kids.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Celine. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. Yes this sure is a baffling case. And it always shocks me when people confess to a crime they didn’t commit. But it happens way more often than seems possible. Either way, I hope one day their loved ones can get some answers. Thanks again!

  3. Nic Nic

    It seems like it would make sense for it to be Kenneth McDuff given his history of murdering and raping teens; he even confessed to it! I understand his DNA didn’t match the evidence the police had, but I’m curious what their evidence is. If 52 people were in the shop that day alone, I’m sure there would be lots of people’s hair.

    I’m just curious why that hair stood out, was it on the rape victims body? These cops don’t seem the most competent if they’re pointing guns at suspects heads…

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Nic. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment. I agree – it would be nice to know more about the DNA comparisons. So many unanswered questions!

    • Prajwal Prajwal

      I think they were pubic hair as two them were raped. Well I don’t know for sure it’s just my instinct.

    • Ashiq Ashiq

      They also took look at a dna of sperm from the vagina

  4. Paul Thomason Paul Thomason

    I am an enthusiast of criminal psychology and I have some experience in this field from my military service. I have studied multiple famous sequence killers throughout history to learn from them. Men like Son Of Sam, BTK, and especially Edmund Kemper. I have what I call “The Kemper List” based on interviews that have been conducted with him in the effort to try to identify individuals like him in future murders. These murders are very obviously tied to sexual gratification due to the positioning of the clothes, the nature in which these young women were found and position in which they were found. Sexual gratification for serial killers in my opinion is subjective. They are specific on what they “need” to fill their excitement. It is very possible this was two men, but it also may be one. Given the witness testimony, two men is highly probable. The fashion in which they were killed, shot to the back of the head suggest sadomasochism, where the victim is put at the mercy of the killer. Ed Kemper mentioned that many of these individuals enjoy when they beg for their lives because it gives them a feeling of “Playing God” where they decide when the victim dies. It gives them thrills of grandeur and empowers masculinity to the most extreme level. The other thing mentioned is what I really wanted to bring up. All serial killers interviewed in prison admitted that they returned to their crime scenes frequently. They said it was a force they could not resist, to feel the experience again and relive the thrill. The false confessions I’m not sure about but I can say these killers take things from their crime scenes. As trophies or badges of honor. These murders seem to be something the suspects were proud of doing because of the positions of the victims in the building. Sort of like a display saying “Look what I did, try to catch me”. Many times they will toy with law enforcement because it’s more of a game for them that delivers the excitement of being caught for something so terrible. BTK for example confessed to many murders that he had not even been proven to have done. No definitive evidence had placed him at the scenes for these murders, but he still confessed to them because he was proud of his work and wanted the attention from the additional murders, giving him a sense of empowerment, feelings of grandeur that led him to believe he was somehow special. I know it’s been years since these murders occurred, but I can guarantee the killer or killers are definitely returning to the scene of this crime to relive the experience again and again for the purpose of sexual fulfillment. This seems to be an area that is frequently populated with many different faces, but someone will look out of place. Chances are he will be an average joe. Look like everyone else, have a stable job, perhaps successful relationships, and he will pay attention to media sources about this case. Newspaper, news on TV, etc. If he returns to these scenes, he will most likely be “taking it all in”. He would probably pause for a time to relive this experience, he may look as if he is dazing into the moment or somehow otherwise distracted at the scene. Then most likely return home or somewhere to enjoy his fulfillment again. I know this doesn’t sound pretty and I apologize for the level of detail, but sometimes the gritty details can reveal things that may be very helpful to a crime like this. I hope this helps in your continued investigation. Good luck to you all.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Paul. Thanks for reading and for sharing your great insights! I really appreciate it, as I am sure our readers will as well. Looking forward to hearing what they think of your thoughts. Your profile of the perpetrator is interesting and informed. The nitty gritty details are sometimes what it takes to bring a case back to life! So never hesitate to share them. I wonder what percentage of serial killers return to the scenes of their crimes. I doubt it is 100%. Any links to articles or texts that may provide that info?

  5. J.M. Bee J.M. Bee

    I return to this case every so often as I find it frustrating that it hasn’t been solved. I don’t think the four boys had anything to do with it, for a number of reasons. I think this crime was committed by men who had already committed crimes of some kind before and who had already spent some time in prison. The horrific nature of this crime, the size of it — four girls — the “professional” nature of it (destroying evidence via fire), all point to hardened criminals. One thing I keep returning to is the fact that two different customers saw the two men who were in the shop before it closed, yet to my knowledge, we don’t have a sketch of these men. Why? Were sketches ever produced? If not, why not? Could sketches still be produced today? If LE doesn’t want to do it, the families should do it privately. Best – JMB

    • Christine Christine

      Hi J.M. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to share your thoughts on the case. Like you, I’m leaning more towards the crime having something to do with the customers last seen in the store. However, if sketches weren’t made at the time I’m not sure I’d do them now as eye-witness accounts are not terribly reliable even shortly after a crime occurs. Could you imagine how inaccurate they might be now? I find it odd those “customers” never came forward if they weren’t involved, unless of course they were just travelling through the area… and maybe never heard of the crime? But they would have to have been from pretty far away as it was such a big story. Anyways, here hoping one day there are some definitive answers in this case…

  6. Kaia Watts Kaia Watts

    Hello! I found this very interesting. The fact that the four boys life’s where ruined because they where forced to confess something they didn’t do makes me sad. I believe they might know what happened or even possibly witnessed it or known who did it. I have this weird theory that It could have been the Officer who was out on patrol, Troy Gay. Now it sounds crazy, but police departments have been corrupt before in the past, I just think he could have possibly done this and then called the fire men. This is a possible theory of mine. Let me know what you think!

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Kaia. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment! I’d be surprised if the four boys were ever even at the scene – there’s zero evidence placing them there. I also have seen no evidence the police were involved. I strongly lean towards it being the unknown customers who were seen lingering in the shop at closing time like outlined in the article. Either way, here’s hoping the girls’ loved ones get some answers soon. It’s been far too long. Take care and thanks again.

    • Armando Armando

      I relate to what you are saying. I read where the second bullet found, was a police issue caliber at that time. What if he got there, found the bodies, and the youngest was not dead yet. And he decided to commit the wicked sexual act. Because none of the other girls was shot by the second caliber, only the youngest. I believe that the 2 sitting at the booth near the cash register, did commit the crime. And they were probably traveling drifter types. Also, i think it’s suspicious that the guy working at the party store didn’t hear anything or smell smoke. I also believe this was a premeditated crime. No one carrys lighter fliud with them on a regular basis. They should investigate if the officer was a smoker, and what type of lighter he used. Also, drifters are known to be smokers, and i would think a hardcore smoker would carry tobbaco and lighter fluid with him, especially if he was a drifter. But it’s just speculation, i could come up with theories all day long. I would think being drifters, they took the money. But what if the cop took the money to make it look like a robbery. And yes, cops are corrupt, i remember back in the late 80s, they arrested an Austin police oficer for child pornagraphy. Well they have DNA, i believe it is now just a matter of time.

      • Christine Christine

        Hi Armando. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Although I don’t think law enforcement was involved, like you I also hold out hope that DNA will one day help close this tragic case. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with our community. Take care! – Christine

        • Cj Cj

          Why don’t u think the police was involved? There’s always a possibility. Stop shutting it down.

  7. James H James H

    Paul Dennis Reid was another person of interest in this case. He committed murders at Baskin Robbins and McDonald’s, both in Texas. Unfortunately, he died in prison. One of the reasons this crime will remain unsolved in my opinion

    • Christine Christine

      Hi James. Thanks for sharing! Reid is an interesting suspect. It could be him. He did commit aggravated armed robbery in 1983 and paroled in 1990 and his crimes occurred in Texas. But I wonder if it was him. He had a very low IQ and committed most of his crimes in a few month period after losing a job. And he made it seven years or so after being paroled – kind of like he just snapped and went on a killing spree. Plus the rape and sexual posing that occurred in the yogurt shop crime wasn’t a component of the other cases. But thanks for bringing him up – you never can know.

  8. CAT Productions CAT Productions

    Based on what I’ve read about this case, I do believe the four original suspects were the perpetrators. Have you read the case file transcripts of the interviews of Scott & Springsteen? How do you explain separately both Scott & Springsteen’s knowledge of certain, specific details of the crime scene? Certain, specific details known only by law enforcement that had not at that point been divulged to the public?

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Cat. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to comment! The article lays out why I think the four original suspects may not be guilty – including potential police coercion and the much more troubling fact that in 2008 it was found that none of the DNA at the scene or in and on the victims matched any of the four men. So perhaps they were involved, but it would mean a fifth man no one had yet before mentioned (police or the four men) took part in the crime. In the end you are right – it’s possible they did commit the murders, but I’d be surprised. Regardless, here’s hoping one day the victims’ families and the community get some answers. Thanks again and take care.

      • CAT Productions CAT Productions

        Hi Christine, thanks for your reply. I think what leads me to believe at minimum Springsteen (with perhaps Scott & others) were the perpetrators or in some fashion directly involved is the fact Springsteen had knowledge of certain specifics re the crime scene that only police and the perpetrators would have. How does one explain that? In addition, Springsteen in fact admitted to being guilty but later recanted stating his confession was coerced. I personally do not buy the notion that an innocent person admits they are guilty of a crime of this magnitude as a result of real or imagined coercion. It simply hardly (if ever) happens.

        People that are truly innocent do not volunteer a confession of guilt including specific crime scene details only otherwise known to police.

        Based on all I’ve read about the case, I do believe all (or some combination of the original four suspects) did commit the crime.

        Sadly, for multiple reasons, it’s probably unlikely any of the perpetrators will ever be prosecuted or convicted.


        • Christine Christine

          Hello! Thanks for your thoughtful reply. It’s a possibility some or all of the original suspects were involved, but we will still have to agree to disagree as I still think it’s highly unlikely. There are a number of academic articles (just do a Google search) supported by research that explain how false confessions work. Including why they happen and how surprisingly common they are. I agree it’s difficult to understand someone confessing to such a terrible crime they didn’t commit. But they do. Good point about the level of the details offered during the confession, though. I’d need to look into how specific they were as well as if the police could have coached them, even unwittingly, on what to say. If you have any links to a reputable source covering these details please drop a link. Either way, here’s hoping one day soon the victim’s loved ones and the community get some firm answers. Really, I would happily be wrong for everyone to get some kind of closure or justice. Take care and thanks again!

        • Cole Cole

          People confess to crimes all the time that they didn’t do,if i keep you up for 2 days constantly harassing you without you being able to fight back you will be Superman for me or bozo the clown, whatever one i want you to be,the human mind has its endurance and in most people its a very short one, this is a fact.

          • Christine Christine

            Hi Cole! Good point. It’s hard to imagine this but we’ve seen this happen often enough to know it’s true.

          • Tom Tom

            Hello Cole, His point about the confessions is not that it’s impossible to have a false one, but the fact that the two young men gave information that only the perpetrators would have known makes it very unlikely they are false confessions.

            I’d add, in two separate confessions, they each agreed on personalized details of what occurred during the crime and after the crime, something which would be the most amazing coincidence in history if they weren’t actually involved in it. How did they both come up with the same private details? I cannot believe they have nothing to do with the crime.

  9. Mya Belle Mya Belle

    Now that DNA has been used from these Ancestry companies, and was used to find The Golden State Killer, maybe it will help solve this case eventually also. I’m hoping these poor girls family’s will get the closure and answers they deserve! I recently found this site and really enjoy it Christine! You have a lot of cases i’ve never heard of. Please keep up the good work!

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Mya. Thanks for reading and for the kind words! Yes, it’s also a hope of mine that DNA will solve this case soon. Take care and have a great weekend.

  10. Jamey Jamey

    Had to research this for a class project.. thing. It sucks how this case was never solved, I hope these girls get justice soon if possible. (I’d assume it’d be a little difficult- the case occurred a long time ago. I’m not an expert in this sort of thing but I’d assume the DNA, etc is probably either still intact or gone.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Jamey. What an interesting school assignment! Yes, this case is both heartbreaking and baffling. What I think happened shifts over time. But I still hold out hope forensics will one day help solve these horrific murders. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    • The latest news is, the FBI has the DNA, I believe we’ll know who it was this year. They know which family it comes from, they just have to do investigation as to exactly who. It’s the same way they caught the Golden state serial killer, it’s just a matter of time now.

  11. JM JM

    This one is a particularly cruel crime, but I’m going to take a shot at it. I think that the girls were being followed. Maybe some rapists saw a group of girls heading down the street and they decided they were bored and went to follow them. I think the officers could have done more, considering two of the girls were raped, they could have gotten DNA from the girls’ ‘down there areas’. Bye!

    • Christine Christine

      Hi JM. Sadly for DNA it be useful it needs to match someone. Someone may have indeed followed the girls from the mall. I more lean towards a couple “customers” hanging back and attacking the girls at closing. Hopefully there is one day closure in this horrifying case.

      • JM JM

        Ok, thanks! Do you know if they tried to get DNA at all? It wouldn’t make sense if they didn’t get it because ‘down there’ wouldn’t be as ruined inside, would it?

        • Christine Christine

          Yup! To my knowledge they have DNA. But it hasn’t been matched to anyone yet.

  12. Armando Armando

    There is DNA, and they have traced it to a particular family. They just need to figure out who it was.

    • Christine Christine

      This would be very exciting news! Can you post a link to your sources for this?

  13. Armando Armando

    You can find the YouTube videos on the topic, I know the father of one of the girls is upset that the FBI won’t release information yet. But I say let them do their job. That’s the same way they caught the Golden State serial killer after being elusive for almost 50 years. There was a DNA match for the yogurt shop murders in Florida, after someone entered their DNA for an ancestry search. I’m excited and hope and pray they find them real soon. I’m a native of Austin Texas, born and raised here. I was actually passing by the yogurt shop on burnet rd the night the fire trucks were there.

    • Christine Christine

      Wow! Talk about a case hitting close to home for you. Here’s hoping the DNA will be the answer. The families and the community deserve at least some kind of closure.

  14. Armando Armando

    Yes, I really wanna see the face of the person(s). From reading everything the firemen wrote when they found the girls, and the book the former DA wrote, I can’t imagine how demented someone can be to do such a crime.

  15. Tom Tom

    Thanks for your article on this terrible crime. I lived in Austin for years, although a little after the time of these murders.

    I recommend that anyone take a look at the trial records and the confession transcripts that exist. The confessions are quite damning for the young men, and I find them convincing myself. This is for two main reasons: One, they knew information only known to the police, such as the other kind of gun being used, and the position of how one of the bodies was laid out. Two, they gave personal details that agreed with each other, even though they were interrogated separately. That includes that one of them was told to rape a girl, and was physically unable, as well as where they went afterward and what they did. For them to agree on multiple details like that would be one in a billion chance or something, if they were not involved in the murders.

    I think the arguments against their guilt can be reasonably explained. The fact they did not leave forensic evidence there may be due to the fact they set fire to the building, and the firemen subsequently dumped thousands of gallons of water on it. The DNA from an unknown male could come from another culprit, not mentioned in the confessions.

    Pierce was found with a gun shortly after the murders (although not the murder weapon), and later was shot after he stabbed an officer with a knife, something you don’t do if you are incapable of serious violence. The other young men were just following his lead, and I believe were shocked and ashamed at their own actions.

    That’s not to mention the number of confessions of the crime — Pierce alleged one of his friends was involved when he was questioned shortly after the murders, one of them also confessed to a personal friend to being involved, two of them gave confessions, and very detailed ones, to police years later. That makes a very strong statement to me.

    This crime is definitely one to dig deep in, and find out as much as you can. It is challenging, and perhaps there was someone else involved too, but I believe they got the right men.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Tom. Thanks for reading and for taking the comment. It’s a tough haul to sell me on the confessions, but I do see some of your points. Lots to think about and I definitely more investigating to do. Hopefully a cold case team is doing just that. It sure would be nice for the community, family, anyone suspected wrongly, etc. to finally have some kind of closure. A part of me hopes they didn’t get the right men and let them go. Maybe one day soon we will find out. Take care and thanks again. ~ Christine

  16. Kimberly B. Kimberly B.

    One of the 2 men who were the last 2 in the yogurt shop and who are the 2 likely murderers was reported to be wearing an army fatigue jacket. If he’s a veteran, say of the recent Afghanistan or Iraqi wars, and and experienced criminal, it’s possible that he committed similar acts or other crimes while in the military. I’m a Viet Nam era veteran, former Texan, and former resident of Austin. I know this could pertain to lots of men, but which of those who committed similar crimes in the military could have been in Austin on that day, could have fit the general description, could have been about the correct age, possibly even enlisted in Austin or nearby, etc? When I enlisted in the early/mid 70’s, rapists were sometimes sent into the military, rather than prison. Horrible, but true. If the FBI won’t help by releasing DNA, then maybe the slightest clue (like the jacket) could help. I’m praying that these guys get caught soon.

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Kimberly – Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this case with the community here. It definitely seems plausible that it could be a veteran from the area and I hope the authorities looked into it. Like you, I want nothing more than this horrific crime to be solved one day soon. Take care ~ Christine

  17. pat pat

    What if the 2 men were hired by the store owner to burn the place down and claim insurance payments?

    Frozen yogurt wasn’t that popular back in ’91 and less so in December. I believe the daytime high was 70F on the day of the murders. Why rob a yogurt joint in Dec when you get way more from the cash register in July or August, when daytime temperatures surpass 100F? Why not rob a fast-food joint instead? How profitable was the yogurt business back in ’91?
    Was the store making profits or struggling to survive?

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Pat – thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts. For most franchise businesses like the yogurt shop the building is leased and the franchisee doesn’t own it. Kind of like most mall situations. If that was the case here they would not get much if any insurance money due to the fire. I agree though… weird time of year to rob a yogurt shop. So I would not be surprised if robbery was a secondary crime and some sexual motive – or pleasure in power and killing – was first.

  18. Cole Cole

    Love your site, found it awhile back and come back every so often to read on the cases,what a horrible murder(s) ,specially the 2 sisters that died together, cant even imagine what it was like for the families,wasn’t there another murder at a yogurt/ice cream place in the 90s also but it was just a single girl or 2? sounds like some kind of M.O to me.

    If the DNA the police got was from semen they have quite a bit to get strong profiles, it wont be long before they catch them with all this ancestry business going on,sometimes i believe these sites were made for that while making people think they are “researching their ancestors” while they are actually getting a database of the population out there.

    Not complaining about it but just makes me think when people have dual motives for doing something, anyhow, again love the site and the cases, fascinating stuff!!

    • Christine Christine

      Hi Cole – thanks so much for your kind words! I know, right? I can’t imagine those poor parents losing both daughters. The police did investigate links to similar crimes but nothing came out of it. I agree with you – I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer finally comes from ancestral DNA matching. I’ve noticed that before in the sciences too – an invention or discovery ends up having a dual or unexpected purpose. That’s really in my opinion at the heart of the beauty and importance of discovery… Take care and thanks again!

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