Investigators focus on Facebook posts in murder mystery

Ronald Shumway has been missing since April; since then, human remains were found in the backyard of his former home.

DALLAS – Take a look at Ronald Shumway's Facebook page. It looks like he'd met someone new.

On April 23, his status reads, "Found me a cowboy and he actually lives on a ranch. I'm going to be his Ranch Hand." Another status update from that same day: "Going to pack my bags and off to Austin with my Midnight Cowboy to his ranch."

Friends asked him to post photos of his new boyfriend. He never did.

April 23 also happens to be the last day Shumway was seen alive. Months later, a man's body was found encased in cement in Shumway's back yard.

Police have DNA from his relatives and are awaiting the results to see if it's Shumway.

Detectives obtained a search warrant on Friday for Shumway's Facebook. They are interested in a string of status updates from around the time of his disappearance and afterward.

Did Shumway post all of those status updates on April 23 and afterward? Did someone else impersonate him, perhaps to make people believe he'd met someone new and moved to Austin? Does the "Midnight Cowboy" described in those Facebook posts even exist?

"It's a murder mystery, that's for certain," said retired state District Judge John Creuzot, who provided the Facebook messages to News 8. "People just don't just die encased in cement."

Creuzot said Shumway sent him a Facebook request a couple of years ago. Shumway told him that he'd worked in the records department of the District Attorney's office. Creuzot has a vague recollection, but says he never really knew Shumway other than through his Facebook postings.

Police say the man found in Shumway's backyard was killed. They will only say that the person died from "homicidal violence."

Shumway had lived in the house on Winnekta Avenue for decades. Neighbors say he lived there with his mother and grandmother, who are now deceased. They have described him as a troubled individual.

Neighbors recalled that Shumway had shady people living with him, and they wonder if that had something to do with his disappearance.

On April 24, a day after he was last seen, a new profile picture was posted on his Facebook page. That same day, DART officials received an email from someone claiming to be Shumway resigning from his job as a bus driver.

Two days later, another status update said he was back in Dallas and forgot his phone in Austin.

"Think I'm moving soon," the update said.

On April 30, another status update said he was "Living in Austin at the ranch! I love Austin!!!" On May 8, a status update said he was "loving the ranch life" and that his "cowboy" was teaching him to ride a horse named "Snuffy." The post said he was going back to Dallas to pack.

The final status update appears to have been on May 10.

"Does anyone in Austin build outdoor ponds?" the post said. "We want to build a coi [sic] fish pond by our fire pit in the backyard at the ranch in Lake Austin."

Weeks later, on June 22, the sale of Shumway's Winnekta Avenue house to a Plano real estate agent was finalized. Authorities say his signature on the deed transfer was forged. The person purporting to be "Ronald Shumway" at the closing was not him, either.

Over the next couple of months, the house would pass through several more deed transfers before being signed over to True Option Realty, an Allen-based company. The new owners found the human remains on Sept. 24.

"That's the first mystery right there: Who is the person, and if [it is Shumway], who did this?" Creuzot said.


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