A Santa Cruz tech executive was forced from his home in the middle of the night and then killed this week, leaving authorities with few clues but plenty of questions in the slaying.
The body of Tushar Atre, 50, was found Tuesday morning about seven hours after the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office was alerted that he had been taken from his home “during a crime.”
Law enforcement officials are still trying to piece together the events that led to Atre’s death, which they believe originated with a robbery attempt. Here’s what we know:
Atre was in his oceanfront home on Pleasure Point Drive in the oceanfront Pleasure Point community outside Santa Cruz early Tuesday morning when multiple people entered the house and took him away, said Sgt. Brian Cleveland, a spokesman for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office. Several other people were inside Atre’s home when he was taken. He was last seen being forced into his girlfriend’s white BMW around 3 a.m., authorities said.
Just before 10 a.m., investigators found the BMW and Atre’s body in a heavily wooded area about 14 miles north of his home, Cleveland said.
Do investigators have a motive?
Authorities said on Facebook they think the crime began as a robbery attempt. It’s unclear whether the killers had any relationship with Atre, officials said.
“We know that he was kidnapped during an intended robbery, but we don’t know what exactly led to his eventual murder,” Ashley Keehn, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office, told KRON-TV.
There have been no arrests in the case, but sheriff’s officials are seeking surveillance video from the public. Anyone with information is asked to call (831) 471-1121.
Who is the victim?
Atre was the owner of AtreNet, a web design company founded in 1996 that caters to Silicon Valley corporate businesses. According to AtreNet’s website, the company’s clients include technology, marketing and software companies such as Hewlett-Packard, BuzzLogic, Seagate and Tealeaf Technology.
Several local media outlets have described Atre as a millionaire. On social media, he presented himself as an active, ambitious man.
It's almost 7pm and it's been a jam-packed day! My team is designing and testing client websites and I'm ramping up new business. Reach out!— Tushar Atre (@tusharatre247) February 12, 2017
Besides his web design business, Atre had his sights on other projects too, and friends wonder whether that had anything to do with his slaying.
“What my mind goes to is a year or so ago, we started a cannabis manufacturing company” called Interstitial Systems, said Robert Blumberg, a friend of Atre’s, who spoke to KSBW-TV.
As for his personal life, Atre’s Instagram profile depicts an adventurous, nature-filled life. Atre posted photographs of himself surfing, foraging for mushrooms and playing guitar in his home overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Did Atre have any enemies?
Although officials think the motive in Atre’s kidnapping was robbery, bad online reviews of the man as a boss were also drawing interest.
One anonymous user of the Glassdoor job-search website said his interview with AtreNet was appalling.
“When the CEO joined he was extremely vulgar using foul language the entire time. He was very rude and condescending and contradicted himself when asking questions...It only took about 10 minutes of that abusive behavior for me to gauge this guy as a complete narcissistic jerk.”
In a company review titled “CEO is abusive,” another anonymous user said Atre “doesn’t value anyone but himself.” Another review titled “Horrible from the top” describes Atre as disrespectful and condescending.
Despite numerous negative comments, friends chose to remember Atre in a more positive light.
John Ribera told KSBW-TV: “I just try and take it for face value of how I knew Tushar, which is as a really happy and kind person. I knew him through surfing in the surfing community here in Pleasure Point, and so that’s how I would like to remember him.”