AUSTIN, TX – A shocking crime that rocked an upscale Austin suburb earlier this fall has led to an arrest. Melissa Davis, 33, was found burning alive on the side of Mesa Drive near Cat Mountain Drive on September 29. Responding to a 911 call about a nearby grassfire, firefighters made the horrifying discovery.
Andrew Alexander Cole, 45, was arrested by authorities on October 25. He faces a felony count of tampering with physical evidence with intent to impair, as he is believed to have set Davis on fire. The fire’s severity was such that Davis’ sex and race were unidentifiable at the scene, and her identity was later confirmed through fingerprint analysis.
The arrest followed a meticulous investigation into the baffling death of Davis, an alumnus of the University of North Texas. Investigators managed to link Cole to the crime through a combination of cellphone data and surveillance footage, although the exact relationship between Cole and Davis remains unclear.
Security footage revealed that Davis and Cole were together at the La Quinta Inn in South Austin. On the evening of September 28, Davis was seen in her blue Toyota 4Runner following a white Kia, later identified as Cole’s, into the motel’s parking lot. Davis, who held a master’s degree in sustainable tourism, was last seen on camera exiting her SUV and entering the motel with Cole and an unidentified man.
Later that night, Cole was seen leaving the motel multiple times in Davis’ Toyota. The next morning, he was seen on surveillance footage at the back of the La Quinta Inn, opening the trunk of the vehicle, and placing a heavy item inside. Davis’ vehicle was later spotted on home surveillance footage near where her body was found in the Northwest Hills neighborhood.
Davis’ body, fully engulfed in flames, was discovered just off the road by firefighters. A lighter was found nearby, and a strong smell of accelerant was detected. A police K-9 unit also found a butcher knife with a melted handle close to Davis’ charred body. While the official cause of death is still pending toxicology results, investigators believe Davis was alive when she was set on fire.
Cole is currently being held on a $100,000 bond in the Travis County Correctional Complex. He is also facing charges in an unrelated case for misdemeanor contempt for allegedly failing to pay child support, with a bond set at $1,800. He is due back in court on November 17.