“Are the pigs gone?” With these words, the new season of Unresolved Mysteries kicks off on Netflix with the mysterious and unexplained disappearance of Austin woman McKayla Rotini, who vanished without a trace last year. The first episode opens with her boyfriend, Jayden O’Malley-Wicznewski, smoking a bong with his friends, the cops having just left as part of their investigation into McKayla’s disappearance.
“McKayla just totally disappeared,” Jayden says, waving a smoking bong at the camera. “She texted me that she would be home from working at the artisanal brewpub, so we hung out smoking weed, but then, like, she never showed up. I waited a couple days, figuring she met someone new, but then I hid the weed and called the law.”
According to those familiar with the couple, Rotini had every reason to come back home. “McKayla was one of those people for whom everything in life was a project, or a quest,” said friend Kayden Horowitz-Rivera on video recorded a year ago just after McKayla disappeared. “She made Jayden her latest project, wanting him to clean up the house, get a real job, quit smoking weed, take her out once a week, and start adulting, basically.”
“Oh yeah, she was heavy into making him change,” says friend Haydon Andersen-Fagan off-camera. “She would come over and start throwing out the old pizza boxes, comic books, roaches, and stuff, and make him wash his clothes in the apartment complex coin-op once a week. It was really sweet how dedicated she was to her future.”
By all accounts, the transformation was going well. Jayden had asked for more hours at his job at Airplane Coffee, where he worked as a barista for sixteen hours a week, and was thinking of even filing a tax return, something important to McKayla because she was reportedly concerned that the Aid to Abused Women program in Texas was under-funded.
“So… look,” says Jayden, as the camera tours the apartment. “Her purse and phone were with her, but all of her clothes are gone, like she was planning to move out or something. Her meds and toothbrush, poof!, they’re gone too. I can’t find a single trace of her in here… it’s like she just vanished, man,” he says. “Straight one minute she was here, and the next she was gone.”
At the Rainbow Lizard, the brewpub where Rotini worked, her coworkers expressed surprise. “She just went home like normal,” said Sue Chen-Wittgenstein, a fellow server. “Worked her six hours plus lunch and four union-mandated breaks, and then she was outta here. She didn’t look upset or anything. I’m pissed because she was going to sub me for next week but now I’m going to miss roller derby practice.”
On camera with the Unresolved Mysteries crew, Jayden keeps taking bong hits and going over the facts. “Her little teddy bear, that’s gone too. She held it when she told me we needed to have a heart-to-heart, and she was leaving unless I cleaned up my act, got sober, threw out my guitar, and got an office job so she could have a baby,” he says. “I was, like, we’re still in our late 20s, why should we even worry about this stuff?”
“McKayla was feeling a lot of pressure,” says Haydon, or maybe it was Kayden. “She wanted a little house in the burbs with a couple kids, and he wanted to keep living la vida loca with a bong in one hand and a chainsaw in the other,” he says. “She even started packing up her stuff and talked about having an affair to end the relationship if he didn’t get his act together. That’s why it wasn’t surprising that her car was found outside my apartment.”
During the filming of this episode of Unresolved Mysteries, a camera operator bumps into the large heap of clothes in the corner, causing them to slide aside and reveal a blue barrel. “Don’t touch that,” says Jayden. “It’s where I keep my grandmother’s ashes.” He quickly covers the barrel with a heap of clothes, pizza boxes, and Bob Marley tapestries.
As he takes more bonghits, Jayden becomes pensive. “I loved that girl,” he sobs. “She wanted to fix me, thought. That’s what her problem was: she was 100% together except that she could be a controlling, manipulative, subversive bitch… sometimes. In the end she couldn’t change me. I guess she just gave up and left or something.”