Nine bodies have been pulled out of Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas, since the summer of 2022. Some people think that the deaths are the result of a serial killer on the loose in the city, a theory that has recently proliferated on TikTok.
One TikToker in particular, Ken Waks, claims that he has “cracked” the supposed Austin serial killer case—if there even is one. But many on the app say that Waks’ observations about the developing story don’t add up and that he’s posting about the case to peddle sales for his app.
Waks, who lives in Chicago and has over a million followers on TikTok, began posting his theories about the deaths on April 4 when he stitched Austin-based creator Nick Casablancas. Casablancas’ video explains that multiple bodies have been found in Lady Bird Lake, which Casablancas and many others think is the work of a serial killer.
In Waks’ TikTok, he says that the discovery of multiple bodies in bodies of water is part of a “national problem,” because bodies have been found in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin, Minneapolis, and other cities and that he is gathering information to give to the FBI.
“I’m in the serial killer group in Austin,” Waks says of his collaboration with Casablancas. “I have evidence. I know what’s going on. And it’s so big, it’s so deep, it’s really wild.”
In follow-up TikToks, Waks asks for viewers to send him any information they have about bodies found in Lady Bird Lake and shows maps of cities he made that show where bodies of missing persons were found. He also claims that he’s working with “multiple” private investigators in Austin and that the murders are the work of a team of killers rather than a single serial killer.
The city’s police department issued a statement on April 3 stating that there was no evidence to support “foul play” in the deaths of the people found in Lady Bird Lake. The Austin Police Department did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment.
Texas Monthly reported this week that “many of the claims spreading online supporting the serial killer theory simply aren’t true,” and that “amateur investigators” are frightening people and getting in the way of police investigations.
However, Waks remained on the case. His investigating work intensified on April 23, when he claims a private investigator showed up at his apartment with no prior warning and asked him to be “part of the team” investigating the deaths of the bodies that were found in Lady Bird Lake.
“I’m gonna help them a lot with their tech stuff,” Waks says of “the [investigating] team.” “With the map building, with the resource gathering, with the data collection stuff.”
While Waks had received support from viewers and commenters on his initial videos about the existence of an Austin serial killer, many found his claim about being approached at his home by a private investigator suspicious.
“Civilian brought into an investigation?” @iwouldlikethescallop commented on Waks’ video. “Sounds super real.”
“This is gonna be the next KONY 2012,” @catboyhanniballecter wrote.
“Im questioning everything…including you,” @wowyoudontsayuh commented.
Waks’ additional TikToks about an Austin serial killer have garnered more backlash: In one, he says he “cracked the case” and is working with Kevin Gannon, a retired police officer who has dedicated years to investigating a supposed string of murders by the “Smiley Face Killers.” In another, Waks talks about “the investigation” alongside an app for which he is the chief marketing officer in a paid advertisement he made for a project management software company.
“Finally found someone more delulu [delusional] than me,” @sophid_19 commented on Waks’ video about working with Gannon.
“The grift always shows itself at some point,” @ktfuntimessimracing commented on Waks’ paid advertisement.
Waks did not respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment before publication.
Meredith Lynch, a TikToker who makes content about celebrity brands, has been at the forefront of attempting to debunk Waks’ claims. In her TikToks about Waks, she says he is “writing fan-fiction about his life” and “plugging [his own] app.” Lynch also shows screenshots that Waks posted on his Instagram story claiming that he “caught two [murderers] already.”
“It’s awful that people have been murdered,” Lynch says in a TikTok. “But Ken [Waks] has not caught two murders.” The Daily Dot reached out to Lynch.
She also says that she doesn’t believe Waks is “rooted in reality,” and that his videos include many mentions of his app because they are a “reprehensible” “marketing strategy.” Lynch also shows a post—which looks to have since been deleted—on an investing website that states that Waks’ mention of the app in his “unrelated” TikTok videos boosted the app’s funding.
“[Waks has] created a marketing strategy where they are profiting off going viral by talking about people’s absolute tragedies,” Lynch says in a TikTok. “That they don’t really have anything to do with, other than the fact that they want people to download their [app].”
In response to Lynch’s videos and the other backlash he received, Waks posted a TikTok on Tuesday apologizing “to the families” of the victims for mentioning his app in his videos about murders.
“I acknowledge that it was insensitive to reference my startup on those two occasions in posts relating to this case,” Waks says in his TikTok. “I made a mistake by intersecting those two parts of my life.”
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