Skeletal remains identified as missing Austin man

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by SHANNON MURRAY / KVUE NEWS and Photojournalist DENNIS THOMAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @ShannonM_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on November 13, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 13 at 6:16 PM

AUSTIN -- Gabriel Sanchez vanished more than four years ago. The trail went cold, but now police have a break in the case after learning remains found in North Austin belong to him.

Detectives have been looking for Sanchez since 2009, not knowing whether he was dead or alive. They say now that they've found his remains, they still have to figure out how he died.

"We come from a family of eight, we're very close. He went missing about 4.5 years ago," said his big sister Sylvia Zurita.

It's not the happy ending family members had been hoping for the past four years, but Zurita said it's an ending just the same.

"It was devastating. It was somewhat bittersweet, you know. We got to find him but then we don't know what happened to him," she said.

Even with this seemingly major development in the case, Zurita said there are plenty of missing pieces to this puzzle.

"My brother had never been gone from home like that. It was no accident," she explained.

Sanchez was last seen on Friday, June 12, 2009. His vehicle was located unoccupied at a trailer park on Johnny Morris Road and was impounded on Sunday, June 14.

In May of 2013 a work crew discovered human skeletal remains in a field near West Parmer Lane and Dessau Road. Austin Police Department detectives were recently notified that these remains have been positively identified through DNA as Sanchez.
 
"Those two roads are no where close to each other, so we're asking the public for anyone who knew him or knew his movements from mid-June to give us a call," said Austin Police Detective Jeff Gabler.

Even after finding Sanchez police say there are many unanswered questions and little to go on.

"Forensically we don't have anything from the vehicle. Nothing from the scene where skeletal remains were located has led to any identification," Det. Gabler said. "As far as we know, Gabriel did not frequent that trailer park. He didn't associate with anybody there. So how the vehicle got there we do not know."

The medical examiner ruled Sanchez's death undetermined. Now police need the public's help to move forward with this investigation.

"I just want to know what happened to him," Zurita said.

Police say Sanchez did have a history of drug use and had spent time in prison on burglary, assault and drug charges. It's still unknown if his lifestyle had anything to do with his death.

The investigation into this case continues. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call the Cold Case/Missing Persons Unit at 512-974-5250 or Crime Stoppers at 512-472-TIPS or text "Tip 103" + your message to CRIMES.

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