After a dog brought a human skull home to its Southeast Austin owner on a mid-September morning, authorities have now identified the remains as that of Top 15 Most Wanted fugitive Kevin Patrick Stoeser.
The discovery on Sept. 8 on Falwell Lane launched a homicide investigation after a woman reported the discovery just before 8 a.m. that Monday. The dog found the skull at the intersection of Fallwell Lane and Puebla Drive. That’s just east of Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.
Lone Star Fugitive Task Force Assistant Chief of Enforcement Hector Gomez says Stoeser was the subject of an Austin-area manhunt that got extensive local and national media attention — including being featured in the inaugural season of CNN’s “The Hunt.” Crimefighter and victim advocate John Walsh, the show’s host, profiled Stoeser on the second episode this year.
Stoeser was convicted of sexual assault of a child in 2003. Since then, he’d been in prisons across the country until he was released to the Austin Transitional Center halfway house in Del Valle. He escaped Oct. 24, 2014 after a staff member found him with a smartphone containing child pornography. Police say he ran away from the center that night.
Austin Police said Monday that after the skull, the U.S. Marshals called to let them know they’d been searching the same area in June in connection with the Stoeser case until a staffer was bit by a snake and heavy rains made searching difficult.
When the skull was found, investigators said the skull was too weathered to determine whether it came from a man or woman. However, they did say there was no obvious trauma to the skull, and they delivered it to the Travis County Medical Examiner for further investigation. Detectives followed the 12-year-old golden Labrador, named Carley, back out into the field to see if they could tell where she found the skull. Travis County Search and Rescue crews were also out in the days to follow to search a nearby field.