April 17, 2023 | By: Sarah Mitchell
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and the University of North Florida, Applied Journalism class.
Andreu Batten comes from a large, close knit- loving family once all nestled onto their namesake, Batten Road. Growing up on a private dirt road Andreu, his brother and cousins would play in the sand for hours. Betty, Andreu’s mom stated she would yell at them all to get right to the bathroom to clean themselves up. Andreu was extremely close to his younger brother. “Andreu would always take his younger brother, Timothy out with him, he was always supportive and never told him no, until he started dating!” His mother, Betty laughed while reminiscing on the bond of her son’s. The Brother’s favorite activity together was setting off fireworks during special occasions like New Years Eve and the Fourth of July.
Andreu was a loving sweet boy, he grew up in St. Augustine, Florida and enjoyed spending time hunting and fishing with his father. As a child, his grandfather worked at the railroad station and Andreu was always interested in technology and putting things together. For Christmas, Andreu would always ask for something to “Put together.” His Mother, Betty would take him to RadioShack, and he would always pick out a kit to build Radios or Walkie Talkies. Andreu was infatuated with computers and technology. His beloved grandfather gave Andreu a computer at age 11, “He was ecstatic, he took care of it like it was gold” Betty expressed.
Andreu attended Nease High School, graduating in 1996 with honors. He then continued his education obtaining his AA degree from St. Johns River State College. After graduating, Andreu worked for AOL for 10 years. Andreu started at the bottom and slowly moved his way up the company and by the end of his tenure he was part of what they called the “Think Tank”. He was responsible for fixing computers and helping others build their websites.
Andreu fell in love and got married. They had a beautiful family together. Andreu did a lot with his kids; they traveled to theme parks and went on picnics. Betty stated, “Andreu’s dad had always showed him the ropes of mechanics and changing tires”. Andreu later used those skills to renovate the home they were living in, adding a fourth bedroom so that each child could have their own room.
After leaving AOL, he got a job working for Citi Bank and he moved to Costa Rica to train around thirty new employees on computer fraud. His mom said, “He loved Costa Rica because the people were warm and inviting”. Betty admired how he moved to a place where he knew nobody and was able to make himself comfortable. She remembered one specific memory where, “I was talking to him one day on the phone while he was in a cab on the way to work, and he was rattling off Spanish to the cab driver”. “You don’t even sound like my son” she expressed to Andreu. Andreu ended up moving back to the US to spend more time with his family during the holidays. After returning from Costa Rica, he took great care of his children and made up for lost time with his sister and nieces.
On June 1st, 2012, Andreu and his father left for a trip to a South Carolina Hunting Camp, for a weekend of work to help clean up the area for the upcoming hunting season. That Friday night they arrived; Andreu’s father went to sleep to prepare for the next morning hunt. Andreu’s mother states, “Andreu took a bath that evening, got bored and started to walk around the campground, it was a Friday night, and nobody was there since the hunt starts on Saturday’s”. His Father woke up early that morning to find Andreu wasn’t in his bed. That morning Andreu’s parents called the authorities, looking for their son, and were notified that he was found deceased lying in the road. South Carolina highway Patrol had no leads, and the case slowly went cold.
Since that terrible morning, Andreu’s family has continued to fight for answers for their son. “Someone must know something somewhere, because something this tragic — it just couldn’t be done by one person, I don’t think,” said Andreu’s father.
They continue to honor his memory; Andreu always had a video camera out for every special holiday or even just recording and capturing the love that filled their home. After his passing, every Father’s Day each one of his kids gets to pick out a home video of their dad to watch. Andreu had a wonderful laugh and beautiful smile. He would come up and say, “Mom you haven’t had a hug today, and he would come up and give me a hug” Betty expressed.
This year will be 11 years since they have lost Andreu. Betty hopes that Law Enforcement can learn to have better coordination with victim’s families. She wants them to know that Andreu is not forgotten and that his family is still fighting for answers.
If you have any information about the hit-and-run crash that killed Andreu Batten, please contact the South Carolina Highway Patrol at 803-896-9621 or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-Crime-SC.
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