WATCH: Mother of Chad Austin makes plea for information in son’s death near Panther Falls

Lynchburg & Central Virginia News

UPDATE 10:41 p.m.: Family of Chad Austin spoke alongside investigators at Humphrey’s Gap Overlook, just outside of Buena Vista, on the ongoing investigation into Austin’s death.

“We don’t want Chad forgotten, and that’s why we need your help,” Austin’s mother, Ellen said.

Ellen Austin spoke to media on Wednesday, Oct. 21, one of the hardest of days of the year for her.

“Today is the day before Chad’s 32nd birthday, but he won’t be here to celebrate with us,” she said fighting back tears.

Investigators say they’ve conducted numerous interviews since Austin disappeared and was found almost a year later, dead, in the Panther Falls area, looking for anyone who may have played a role in his death.

“If those individuals are listening today, we are getting closer,” said Special Agent Kevin Zirkle with Virginia State Police. “You have not gotten away with anything. We are making progress every single day.”

VSP re-capped on the beginning of Austin’s disappearance, that Austin’s car was found in the middle of Panther Falls Rd., blocking traffic, with his dog inside.

Upon further investigation, based off of evidence, investigators said Austin had been expecting confrontation.

“…Through social media, texts, and that stuff,” Zirkle said. “The exact nature of that, we’re not sure of at this time.”

Zirkle uses Austin’s wallet that was found six months after he went missing as an example to justify his belief that those with knowledge of or were actively involved in Austin’s disappearance may still be in the area.

“The wallet that we found wasn’t inadvertently placed there,” said Zirkle. “Someone put it there for a purpose, and we need that person to come forward.”

“We believe they’re on the right track and that we will find justice for Chad,” Ellen said.

Ellen said this was the first time she’d been able to say those words, as she continues to grieve over the loss of her son.

UPDATE 1:25 p.m.: Ellen Austin, the mother of Chad Austin, made an emotional plea for tips in the death of her son. She spoke with reporters Wednesday afternoon not far from where his remains were found in March in the Panther Falls area of Amherst County.

Holding a sign with the words “Justice for Chad Austin,” Ellen asked for anyone with evidence or information, no matter how small, to call Virginia State Police.

“To even fathom that our son’s life was taken so early is so hard for our family to bear,” she said through tears.

Ellen said despite Chad’s remains being found back in March, the family still doesn’t have closure “because there are still so many unanswered questions.”

She said Panther Falls was packed the day Chad went missing in 2019 and she says anyone who may have seen her son before his disappearance or on the day he disappeared to call Virginia State Police.

“We do, however, want all to know that we believe they’re on the right track and that we will find justice for Chad.”

Ellen Austin, mother of Chad Austin

If you have any information about this incident, contact the Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Salem Field Office at (800) 542-5959 or (540) 375-9589, or by email at

Watch the news conference below.

AMHERST COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Virginia State Police is set to share an update on the investigation into the death of Chad Austin, a missing man whose remains were found in March.

Virginia State Police will also provide additional photos and a video following the news conference.

You can watch this update live at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 21, here at or on the WFXR News app.

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