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Austin loses mentor, activist and music-lover Esme Barrera in tragic New Year's morning murder

Austin loses mentor, activist and music-lover Esme Barrera in tragic New Year's morning murder

Esme Barrera
Courtesy photo
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_Esme Barrera_January 2012_sketch
Sketch of the suspect released from the Austin PD Courtesy of Austin PD
Esme Barrera
Austin Photo Set: News_Caitlin_Esme Barrera_January 2012_sketch

Update: KXAN reports three individual attacks happened on the same block and in the early morning hours during which Barrera was killed. A suspect sketch has been released. Anyone with information about the identity of the suspect in the composite or about any of the three incidents occurring in the area of W. 31st and King Street during the early morning hours of January 1, 2012 is asked to call the Homicide Tip Line at 477-3588 or Crimestoppers at 472-TIPS.


Early New Year's morning, a great portion of young Austinite's Facebook feeds and email inboxes were flooded with the terrible news that one of their own, Esme Barrera, had been killed.

A mentor to young girls via Girls Band Camp, a teacher at Casis Elementary School and an avid music-lover, Barrera died in her home on King Street at the hands of a predator who has yet to be identified or found in the West Campus neighborhood just a few blocks west of Guadalupe.

It's believed by the majority of her surviving friends that this attack was random and occurred after she walked home from celebrating the new year with a host of friends at 29th Street Ballroom, just a few blocks away.

"Esme's infectious smile, her kindness, and her incredible sense of boundless encouragement touched us all," Girls Rock Camp said in a statement regarding her death.

Her loved ones have sprung to action on a variety of social media platforms, most recently on reddit where one user pleaded for anyone with information regarding Barrera's untimely passing to come forward.

Another, Dave Stripling, started a blog on which he states: "I know so many people got to share stories and music with Esme. If you can, post your photos, your stories, and your mixtapes she sent you here. . .I personally want to play as many Esme mixes as I can, so please share. She filled my heart with love."

Alyx Vesey wrote a tribute on Feminist Music Geek: "Esme was a teacher and gave the gifts of listening, improvising, and problem-solving to her friends. She was an amazing Girls Rock Camp counselor and became a model for how I present myself in front of students and run a classroom. She was hilarious–always quick with a joke, a story about her mom, or a day-after reel about a night out on the town." 

A fund was established to help Barrera's family in El Paso with the coming services and arrangements; anyone is invited to donate in an effort to demonstrate that Austin will continue to support Barrera and her legacy. 

Barrera's death comes as a shock to those living alone or in the well-trafficked West Campus area and serves as a tragic reminder that all must be extremely vigilant about personal safety. Another young woman revealed to investigators that she was attacked on the same street on the same night — but escaped. It's unknown if the two crimes are related.

Authorities have not released further information about cause of death. See the full report on