Armed Murder Suspect Still At Large, Community Mourns Austin’s Loss

Mug shot: Jayveon Caballero. Mug shot provided by the Vermont State Police from a previous conviction.

by Carla Occaso

MONTPELIER — Police have called on U.S. Marshals to help find an armed Barre man with multiple prior convictions, including felony assault, who has now been charged with second degree murder. After getting a reliable tip, investigators learned that suspect Jayveon Caballero, 29, may have fled the state by taking a Greyhound bus from the White River Junction station bound for New York City.

It is not known whether he got off at any point between Vermont and New York or even if he is still in Vermont.

Charges arose following the shooting death of  Markus Austin, 33, at around 4:30 a.m. in the parking lot of apartment building on 191 Barre St. Austin died of a 9 mm gun shot in the torso. It is not known where the 9 mm gun came from since Caballero is not legally allowed to own a gun after having three previous assault and aggravated assault charges under his belt.

Police also released information that the incident came in the wake of a brawl involving multiple people in the parking lot of Gusto’s, 28 Prospect St., Barre, some time after closing time, according to Maj. Glen Hall, Criminal Division commander of the Vermont State Police during a press conference Jan. 23 at 3 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. Also present were Washington County State’s Attorney Scott Williams; Captain J.P. Sinclair, chief criminal investigator of the Major Crime Unit and Montpelier Police Chief Anthony Facos.

Gusto’s closes at 2 a.m. on Saturdays. Many details of the fight are unclear, but witnesses told police at one point Austin hit Desiree Cary, 22, Caballero’s girlfriend, which sent her to seek medical help at the hospital. Cary was later taken into police custody the evening of Jan. 22 after being stopped for a minor traffic incident because she is “the target of an ongoing drug distribution investigation by members of the Vermont Drug Task Force,” a police press report states. Cary was then lodged for lack of $10,000 bail and is facing charges including sale of crack cocaine, and 3 counts of sale of heroin.

This event is an inexplicable tragedy to those who knew Austin — a person who has received heaps of praise as a  friend, co-worker, father and basketball player for the Vermont Frost Heaves. The six-foot, six-inch-tall former player was remembered fondly by one of his former coaches, Joe Salerno.

The late Marcus Austin, from a GoFundMe campaign.

“I had the pleasure of working for one-and-a-half years with Markus,” Salerno told The Bridge by telephone Jan. 23. “He was a tough guy on the court. He was very strong-willed, but he let his the guard down when dealing with kids and fans and that was something I always respected about him. You could see him lower his guard and open up to his fan base.” Salerno said Austin is originally from White Plains, New York and started playing basketball for Eastern Michigan University. Salerno said Austin enjoyed community involvement, which may be why he stayed in Central Vermont.

“I just think, it is extremely tragic, coming from Central Vermont, you rarely expect something to happen here. It is more of a shock when it is someone you know,” Salerno continued. “He had a smile that you just don’t forget. I will always remember him for his smile and I think other people in our community will as well.”

A co-worker, Melissa Jean Andersen, had seen Markus just hours before his death as he went off the second shift and she came on the third shift at the Vermont Psychiatric Care Hospital in Berlin Jan. 21 at 11 p.m. His death hit her so hard she started a GoFundMe fundraiser (https://www.gofundme.com/3a01lqg) to be able to give financial support to his young son and his girlfriend (his son’s mother. The Bridge is identifying neither by name). By 5:50 p.m Jan. 23 she had raised nearly $9,000. “It is really amazing how many people have donated. She (Austin’s girlfriend) shouldn’t have to worry about money now.” Andersen said that not only did Austin’s girlfriend lose the father of her child, but her mother died as well. “They both died Sunday,” Andersen said. “Markus was just a really kind person. He was kind and compassionate. I saw him when patients were assaultive and screaming in his face and he was calm and kind. He was proud of his son.”

Another, previous, co-worker, Emmanuel Riby-Williams, was also broken up over the news. Riby-Williams, a physical education instructor at Union Elementary School, met Austin when Austin was working as a one-on-one classroom paraeducator for Washington County Mental Health services with a special needs child. Austin worked for two years with this child, and Riby-Williams and he formed an attachment.

“He made an impression in my life and in my class with his demeanor. His elegance. He had a good rapport for the student,” Riby-Williams said. Riby Williams also tapped Austin’s basketball skills sometimes. “I knew right away this guy would know something about basketball. I asked him if he would show the students about basketball. I have nothing but kind words about Markus.”

Not only did they have a similar interest in working with children and in sports, but they also shared the same race. “We African Americans in a state completely dominated by whites as Vermont is — we don’t have a good reputation. But I think the short time I knew Markus, he was an exceptional guy.” Riby-Williams said further Austin had the patience to work with challenging children. “The child’s life is entrusted into your hands. They have a tough life. Markus was one of those people who was willing to take on the responsibility to take care of a child who had a tough life. I know he was able to take a difference working with the children of Washington County Mental Health.”

Montpelier Police Chief Anthony Facos answers questions following a press conference Jan. 23.

Comments such as these show Austin’s life had an impact in the community, which is perhaps why Chief Facos started the press conference by offering condolences to Austin’s devastated friends and family. “Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the deceased. We are struggling. It is an incredibly rare event,” Facos said, explaining the last murder in Montpelier occurred in the 1920s when a woman purposefully shot her husband on State Street. The other homicides that occurred more recently were not considered intentional murder.

Agencies working on this case include the Wasington County State’s Attorney’s office, The Bureau of Tobacco and Firearms, The Vermont State Police, U.S. Marshals, Law Enforcement from other states and the Montpelier Police Department.

“We are working with authorities in many states,” Hall said. “We are pretty confident he boarded the bus. How far he got is unknown.” Hall re-emphasized a request for anyone with information to come forward — particularly about the fight and/or a possible motive.

Williams questioned “what is in the water in Washington County” that so much violence is happening. He also praised all the coordinating agencies and departments — especially Chief Facos — for working together seamlessly to solve the case. “It is a tragic situation, but those of us tasked with keeping you safe and responding to crime are doing that very well,” Williams said.

Meanwhile, Caballero is considered a threat to the public, according to Hall, because he has a handgun and is not in custody.

From Left, Washington County State’s Attorney Scott Williams; Vermont State Police Major Glenn Hall, Criminal Division commander; Captain J.P. Sinclair, chief criminal investigator of the Major Crime Unit

Sinclair said he has enlisted help from the U.S. Marshals and many leads have been generated.

“We’re hoping when we get his face out there calls will come in,” Hall said.

Detectives are interested in speaking with anyone who witnessed this shooting or who may have information regarding people involved in this crime.  Anyone with information is asked to contact the Vermont State Police at 802-229-9191 or the Montpelier Police Department at 802-223-3445.  No further details are available at this time, additional information will be released when available.

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