Jim Ward, who was in Australia to perform at Peat’s Ridge and Pyramid Rock festivals has cancelled his remaining sideshow in Sydney to return home to Texas after a friend of his, Austin music scene figure Esme Barrera, was murdered.

Barrera is Austin’s first homicide victim of 2012, after her body was found in her Texas home where she is believed to have been killed around 3:00am on New Year’s Day. A statement issued by Ward’s Australian promoter reads:

It is with deep sadness Jim Ward must cancel his Sydney show at the Sandringham Hotel on Friday 6th January. A statement from Jim explains, “ We just found out a dear friend of Gabe and I has been murdered – we need to get home to be with family, friends and have the support of our gang” A donation page http://forouresmeb.blogspot.com/ has been set up to help the family to pay for services and expenses.

Ticket holders to Jim Ward’s Sydney show at the Sandringham Hotel this Friday will receive full refunds from Moshtix.

Austin’s Police Commander Julie O’Brien declined to say how Barrera died however they are seeking information from the public about the murder, and are investigating whether or not the New Year’s homicide is connected with two other attacks on women in the area.

Locals who heard the commotion from emergency services vehicles rushed out to see the enuring chaos. “[I] saw flashing lights, came and investigated,” Jeffrey Squires told local television station KVUE. “[I] saw the police car was blocking the street here, and asked the policeman what happened down here. He said that there was an accident.”

The killer is yet to be identified or caught but police have released a composite sketch and described the perpetrator as a black man between the ages of 30 and 40, approximately 6 feet tall. Austin band Okkervil River, just one of many local bands to show their support for Barrera, tweeted links to help pay for Berrera’s funeral, as well as good wishes for her friends and family.

“There is a killer out there who took my sister, and he took away probably one of Austin’s best residents,” Barrera’s sister, Marlene, told television station KXAN. “So, at this point, if anyone has any information and can come forward to police, there is a composite; or just any tip that could help the cops find my sister’s killer, it would be greatly appreciated just to lay her to rest, which is what she really deserves.”