Breakthrough in 35-year-old Comal County murder investigation leads to two arrests

Men arrested after additional forensic testing into slaying of Charles Robert Hardin

Tracey Keith Loy, left, and Mark Gatten, right, have been charged with murder in connection with the death of Charles Hardin. (KSAT)

A murder case that has been investigated since 1986 has finally yielded two arrests, according to the Comal County Sheriff’s Office.

Tracey Keith Loy, a 56-year-old man from St. George, Utah, and Mark Gatten, a 57-year-old man from Quaker City, Ohio, have both been charged with murder in connection with the killing of Charles Robert Hardin.

Hardin, 56, was found dead on Aug. 26, 1986 at a campsite at Jacob’s Creek Park near Canyon Lake, according to a news release from the Comal County Sheriff’s Office. His death was ruled a homicide.

The investigation turned up few leads until March 2021, when the sheriff’s office requested the help of the Texas Rangers in reviewing the cold case. The breakthrough was made when crime scene evidence was resubmitted for forensic testing, which led to the identification of Loy and Gatten as people of interest in Hardin’s death.

Loy was interviewed by a Texas Ranger on May 9 about the case. By May 31, he was extradited to Texas on the murder charge. He remains in custody at the Comal County Jail.

Gatten, who was arrested in Quaker City on May 26, remains in Guernsey County Jail in Ohio, where he is awaiting extradition.

Due to the active criminal investigation, Comal County sheriff’s officials declined to release additional details about Hardin’s death.

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