Deaths of 4 in Del Valle being investigated as a homicide


Authorities are investigating a house fire in Del Valle on Thursday morning where four people were found dead as a homicide, the Travis County sheriff’s office said.

“The wounds on all four victims are inconsistent with a fire,” Kristen Dark, a sheriff’s spokeswoman, said at an afternoon news conference. Dark said wounds on the victims were “probably from gunshots.”

Dark said the fire at the home was “significant” and that none of the victims had been identified. But she said investigators believe Matthew Aaron Barber, a resident of the home in the 8300 block of Linden Road, was one of the victims. Officials have spoken with Barber’s relatives and asked anyone who had any information on Barber and his recent activities to call authorities.

“If you know Matthew, if you know about this address, please give us a call,” Dark said. “We need to know who was here this morning. We need to know information about what is going on.”

Crime Stoppers can be reached at 512-472-8477.

Authorities said they don’t have a suspect in custody and will have deputies in the neighborhood where the incident happened around the clock.

On Thursday morning, authorities had said they didn’t have reason to believe the fire was crime-related but that they weren’t ruling that possibility out.

Neighbors said they often saw cars going in and out of the home’s driveway at odd hours of the night.

At 5:54 a.m., firefighters were called to the fire about three miles east of the Texas 130 toll road in southeastern Travis County. Officials said firefighters from the Austin Fire Department and Travis County Fire Rescue arrived about nine minutes later and extinguished the fire quickly before beginning a search.

About half of the building — which authorities described as “a very old home” — burned, authorities said. At first no bodies were found in the structure, but firefighters later discovered the body of a man believed to be in his 20s during a second search. That man was later pronounced dead.

By 10:45 a.m., the death toll had grown to four, authorities said.

The home that burned is set back from Linden Road and has no fire hydrant access, Travis County Fire Rescue Chief Ken Bailey said. The 911 call came from another home on the property.

The Travis County medical examiner’s office was called to the scene and will be responsible for identifying the bodies.

Investigators conducted interviews with several people on the property, which is in a semi-rural area south of Pearce Lane.


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