The young men were strangers, one an astronaut’s son and the other a city employee. But they died together in the trunk of a submerged car, victims of what police say were unrelated carjackings.
The bodies of 20-year-old Brandon Shaw, son of former NASA space shuttle chief Brewster Shaw Jr., and 25-year-old Juan Cotera were pulled from Town Lake Wednesday. They were in the trunk of the elder Shaw’s car.
“As far as we can tell at this point, it was just a random situation,” Lt. David Parkinson said of the two men’s deaths, believed to have been late Monday.
Calls to the elder Shaw’s home in Huntington Beach, Calif., were not returned.
Derrick Williams and Ahmad McAdoo, both 17, were being held Friday on aggravated robbery charges, and police said they may upgrade the charges to capital murder, which carries the death penalty. Police said one of the teens led them to the car.
Police said the pair abducted Cotera and a friend late Monday. The woman was then sexually assaulted and tied to a tree before the suspects disappeared with Cotera in the woman’s car. Soon after, the teens allegedly rammed Shaw’s 1982 Volvo, ordering the two men into the Volvo’s trunk and pushing it into Town Lake.
Both Cotera and Shaw were alive when the car went into the water, according to Travis County Medical Examiner Roberto Bayardo.
Shaw was a University of Texas junior studying architectural engineering.
His father resigned as director of NASA’s space shuttle operations two years ago. He flew three space shuttle flights.