Screenshot of Jessica Lewis and Austin Wenner’s GoFundMe reward page.

Screenshot of Jessica Lewis and Austin Wenner’s GoFundMe reward page.

No suspects yet in West Seattle suitcase homicides

Families are grieving the deaths of Jessica Lewis of Federal Way and Austin Wenner of Kent.

The shock is still setting in — and the search for answers continues — for family members of a Federal Way woman and a Kent man whose remains washed up along a West Seattle shoreline in June.

On June 19, Seattle Police and Seattle Fire recovered bags containing human remains that were located near the water in the 1100 block of Alki Avenue SW. The agencies initially responded to the area for reports of a suspicious suitcase that had washed up on the beach. Another bag was found in the water, the Mirror previously reported.

The bodies were identified as 35-year-old Jessica Lewis, who died on June 16 from multiple gunshot wounds. The second body was identified as 27-year-old Austin Wenner, who died on June 16 from a gunshot wound to the torso. Both of the deaths have been ruled as homicides.

Lewis, who lived in Federal Way, and Wenner, who lived in Kent, were in a long-term relationship, said Gina Jaschke, Lewis’s aunt.

The couple had been dating for about eight years, said Jaschke, who described the two as good-hearted people “trying to make it in this world.”

Lewis, a mother of three sons and a daughter, had worked alongside her grandmother as a caregiver for developmentally disabled and hospice care patients at an adult family home in Kirkland. She had a big heart and had always sought to take care of others, her aunt said.

“She was just a sweetheart, a ray of sunshine,” said Jaschke, fondly recalling a memory of brushing Lewis’s hair when she was a toddler. “She always had a big smile.”

Wenner, nicknamed “Cash” by friends and family, was a “country boy” who loved the outdoors, fishing and swimming, Jaschke said. Wenner’s family asked to mourn in private.

The incident is still under active investigation by the Seattle Police Department.

“Right now I don’t think it’s sunken in for any of us,” Jaschke said. “It’ll never sink in for me. I’ll never have rest until somebody is held accountable for it.”

Each family is now living a nightmare, Jaschke said, the pain of Lewis’s family amplified by another recent loss — Lewis’s grandfather died on July 12.

Jaschke has organized a GoFundMe page to raise reward money for anyone with information leading to the person(s) responsible for the deaths. So far, the page has raised $2,035 of a $10,000 goal.

“PLEASE HELP FIND THE PERSON OR PERSONS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS SENSELESS CRIME,” the page reads. “Your donation will help and go to the person who gives the Seattle Police information that leads to the arrest and conviction of these murderers.”

The page asks anyone with information that may help solve the crime to call Seattle Police Department’s Violent Crimes tip line at 206-233-5000.

Family members last saw Lewis in early June, Jaschke said.

“We’re still just inconsolable,” Jaschke said of the family’s well being. “We’re just heartbroken, shocked. We just can’t believe it.”

The incident was documented via a viral TikTok video, which shows several teens finding a foul-smelling black suitcase near an Alki Beach pier while using Randonautica, an app designed to navigate users to “truly random locations sourced with quantum entropy,” according to the app’s website.

A donator named “The Randonauts” provided $200 to the GoFundMe page on behalf of the Randonautic team.

The donation post reads in part: “The group of friends that made the discovery was using our adventure app so we quickly caught wind of the story. We can’t fathom what you must be going through but we want to support however we can. We have a large community of explorers that were moved by your story about your niece. We are working to campaign and help drive donations here. Your family deserves peace and justice for what happened!”

The video has since received 24.3 million views on TikTok and thousands of shares through other social media and news sites.

Jaschke said she has reached out to the video’s creators in hopes they take down the video. She said she appreciates their help and hopes they are not haunted by the incident, but the victims’ families want both Lewis and Wenner to have peace before they are laid to rest.

“We can’t change what happened. I just don’t want the internet full of just this video and news stories of how they were found,” Jaschke said. “I really want to let people know who they were and … hope they’re remembered for that more so [than the video]. They were very good people, they had good hearts.”

Seattle Police declined to comment on the active investigation or if there are any suspects at the time. Updates on the case have been provided on the SPD Blotter. The most recent update was June 30.

Jaschke said she will never know rest until the individual responsible for the deaths is held accountable, but remains steadfast in her belief the person will be caught.

“We’ll never give up. I’ll never give up,” she said. “They destroyed my family … we’ll never be the same.”

This story originally appeared in the Federal Way Mirror, a sister publication to The Herald.

Talk to us

More in Northwest

FILE - In this Jan. 24, 2019 file photo Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, left, looks on as Suzi LeVine, right, the state's Employment Security Department Commissioner, talks to reporters at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. The state of Washington is calling in the National Guard to help process unemployment benefit claims as officials grapple with a backlog caused in part by a fraud ring that stole more than half a billion dollars in aid, officials said Thursday, June 11, 2020. LeVine said that Gov. Jay Inslee approved the deployment of troops who will start assisting her team next week as it tries to reduce the unemployment claim backlog.(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren,File)
Head of state employment agency to join Biden administration

Suzi LeVine’s departure is effective Feb. 1. A deputy, Cami Feek, will serve as acting commissioner.

FILE - In this May 24, 2019, file photo, teachers and students from Northwest Montessori School in Seattle examine the carcass of a gray whale after it washed up on the coast of Washington's Olympic Peninsula, just north of Kalaloch Campground in Olympic National Park. Researchers say the population of gray whales off the West Coast of the United States has fallen by nearly one-quarter since 2016, resembling a similar die-off two decades ago. In a paper released Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, NOAA Fisheries reported that surveys counted about 6,000 fewer migrating whales last winter, 21,000 as compared to 27,000 in 2016. (AP Photo/Gene Johnson, File)
Gray whale population drops by quarter off U.S. West Coast

Scientists believe that the number of whales may have exceeded what the environment can support.

Algae bloom is seen in June 2018 in Budd Inlet, at the southern end of Puget Sound in Thurston County. (Department of Ecology)
Human-caused ‘dead zones’ threaten the health of Puget Sound

Wastewater treatment plants account for about 70% of the excess nutrients.

Navy seeks to conduct SEAL training in Whidbey, Camano parks

The deadline to register to participate in public comment is 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 22.

Jill Johnson (left) and Greg Banks
Bill to expand sports betting introduced in state Legislature

A similar proposal failed last year, but supporters say the new effort has bipartisan support.

Initiative promoter Tim Eyman arrives to talk to reporters, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash. The Washington Supreme Court on Thursday unanimously struck down Eyman's Initiative 976, a measure that would have steeply discounted the price of car registrations at $30 while gutting transportation budgets across Washington state. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Judge weighs Eyman’s fate as civil trial draws to a close

The serial initiative promoter is accused of campaign finance violations. His lawyer says he did nothing wrong.

West Point Treatment Plant in Seattle. Photo courtesy of King County
Wastewater spills into Puget Sound, Lake Washington

About 20% of the 10 million gallons of untreated water was sewage, and 80% was stormwater.

U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene (right), D-Medina, with U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Artondale, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday for the inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. (Contributed photo) 20210120
Washingtonians bear witness to ‘democracy moving forward’

In “a moment to breathe and hope,” Snohomish County leaders witnessed the swearing in of President Joe Biden.

Most Read