Overview of Amy Ayers
Amy Leigh Ayers was a 13-year-old 8th grader at Burnet Middle School. She was on the yearbook staff and showed hogs in the Travis County Fair and Rodeo. She was very artsy and loved animals. She also participated in the Future Farmers of America program. Amy had dreams of becoming a veterinarian and grew up listening to Georgie Strait.
On December 6, 1991, Amy had a regular day at school and was excited to have a sleepover that evening with her friends. Jennifer picked up Amy and Sara and took them to the mall before her shift. Multiple witnesses say they saw two men sitting in a booth inside. The last known customers left around 10:42 pm. They did not see Amy or Sarah but did see Eliza and Jennifer working diligently to close the store. A no sale was rung up on the register at 11:03 pm. Law enforcement would also find that there was $540 missing from the register. Sometime between 11:03 pm and 11:48 pm, the crime took place.
Emergency personnel entered the yogurt shop after reports of a fire and found the four bodies of Amy Ayers, Eliza Thomas, Jennifer Harbison, and Sarah Harbison in the back room of the building. Eliza, Jennifer & Sarah had been stacked on top of each other, covered in an accelerant, and set on fire. Amy was the last to be found, separate from the three others and not as badly burned. It is likely that Amy was trying to escape, as she was found in a separate part of the store than the other girls. She was found nude with evidence of sexual assault, shot twice in the head with two different guns. The first was a .22 gun but did not penetrate the skull and was not fatal. The second shot was fatal; a .380 bullet from a semiautomatic entered her brain and exited out of her right cheek.
Police were quick to determine that more than one perpetrator likely committed the crime. Despite multiple arrests, convictions, and exonerations over the years, the case remains unsolved. This case rattled the local Austin Community at the time and continues to this day. Many are hopeful that DNA could reveal the identity of the individual(s) responsible for the murders of these girls. This case is the inspiration behind the Homicides Victims Families Rights Act, which aims to provide families with a full reinvestigation of a cold case including forensic testing with today’s standards.