Murders of Gay Men Cause Concern

March 14, 1997

Since the bill failed to win the needed votes two years ago, seven other gay men have been murdered across Texas, three of them in the Austin area. Last summer was an especially trying one for local gay activists. Three men were killed within weeks of each other in unrelated homicides.

In August, David Johnson, 37, was seen leaving an Austin bar on Red River with a man he had met that night. He was found dead the next morning about a mile from his home in Wimberley.

In Hays County, sheriff's detectives say robbery was the motive behind the beating death of David Johnson. The suspect, Jayson Perry Hawkins, 21, was a singer in a New Braunfels-based band -- Stigma -- that had performed the night of August 9 at the Blue Flamingo on Red River Street here in Austin. According to Detective Mitchell Johnson, the two had left the bar in a taxi on the way to Johnson's home in Wimberley, south of Austin. The cab driver told investigators that once in Wimberley, the two got out of the cab and began walking. The next morning, Johnson's body was found in the middle of Gold Rush Road. His head had been smashed by a rock weighing between 30 to 40 pounds.

Johnson was known as a bit of a loner who lived on his father's property in a rural section of Wimberley. He worked as a volunteer at the San Marcos Public Library for two years -- first as part of his community service restitution for a drunk driving conviction. Then, once he'd served his time at the library, Johnson decided to continue working there on a volunteer basis, says his supervisor Diane Insley. Johnson "was very talkative and friendly," she says. "He had a big grin and nice teeth. He just looked like a Texan."

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