Who would target the 50-year-old tech executive-turned-cannabis entrepreneur and would surveillance video help investigators crack the case?
An Entrepreneur & Adventurer
was living near the beach in Santa Cruz, California. Friends say he loved adventure and especially surfing.
October 1, 2019: Mysterious surveillance video
A neighbor’s surveillance cameras captured three individuals walking out of an alley on Pleasure Point Drive in Santa Cruz, California, at 2:48 a.m. Investigators say they are seen heading toward Tushar Atre’s residence.
A commotion in the middle of the night
Tushar Atre was at home asleep around 3 a.m. when employees who were staying with him heard loud noises and banging. One house guest heard two unidentified male voices. They were asking about a safe. The guest then heard the commotion move outside and the sound of cars driving away. A 911 call was made at 3:34 a.m.
No sign of forced entry
Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s officers responded to Tushar’s residence within 10 minutes. They found no sign of forced entry.
No sign of ransacking
Investigators took photos of Tushar’s home which they say did not appear ransacked.
A safe full of cash
Investigators say Tushar Atre had $80,000 in his bedroom safe. But they say the suspects did not get the safe open.
Blood in the street
Investigators found blood in the middle of the street. A white BMW SUV that belonged to Tushar Atre’s girlfriend Rachael Emerlye was missing from his driveway.
Authorities find the white BMW
About six hours later, in the Santa Cruz mountains where Tushar had his cannabis farm, investigators found the missing BMW.
Tushar Atre’s body found
About 20 to 30 yards away from the SUV investigators found Tushar Atre’s body. He’d been fatally shot and stabbed.
Victim’s hands bound
Investigators say Atre’s hands were bound with flex-ties.
Tushar fought for his life
Neighborhood surveillance cameras captured video showing Tushar running down the street, with his hands tied behind his back, attempting to escape his attackers. Investigators say he was then tackled to the ground and stabbed repeatedly.
SUV processed for evidence
Investigators ruled out Rachael Emerlye as a suspect early on. She was out of town at the time of Tushar’s kidnapping and murder. Her SUV was examined for DNA and fingerprints.
November 13, 2019: The suspects brought an assault rifle
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office released a portion of surveillance video showing three unidentified suspects. Investigators say one of the suspects appeared to be carrying an assault rifle.
December 4, 2019: Alleged unresolved issues
Detectives went to Las Vegas to interview two of Tushar Atre’s former employees – Kaleb Charters and Stephen Lindsay. They admitted having had a dispute with Tushar over being paid. When they were shown the surveillance video of the three figures near Tushar’s house, Lindsay denied knowing the three shadowy figures, and both men denied returning to Santa Cruz after they stopped working for him.
January 29, 2020: Justice for Tushar Atre
After nearly four months with no apparent leads, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office announced a $200,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.
More surveillance video
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office identified a blue sedan on additional surveillance video. The video also showed the white BMW SUV. Soon authorities were able to map out the suspects’ possible route.
May 19, 2020: Suspects arrested
The Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office arrested Stephen Lindsay, Kurtis Charters, Kaleb Charters and Joshua Camps. All four were charged with murder, kidnapping, and robbery. They have all pleaded not guilty.