The millionaire tech boss who was kidnapped and murdered before his body was found in an SUV may have run into trouble in ‘black market deals’ with his new cannabis company that he launched last year.
Tushar Atre, 50, was kidnapped from his multimillion dollar Santa Cruz home on Tuesday at 3am by multiple assailants and forced into his girlfriend’s stolen BMW SUV. His dead body was found inside that vehicle seven hours later, abandoned 14 miles away on a rural property he owned.
Police revealed the motive behind his shocking killing could be robbery.
Atre was the CEO of website design company Atrenet. He also recently launched a licensed cannabis manufacturing company, Interstitial Systems, where he may have fell in with the wrong people.
‘He’s definitely new to the industry. Basically, unfamiliar with the etiquette about how to do business,’ Grant Palmer, the CEO of CannaCruz, a well-established dispensary located just a block down from Atre’s cannabis business said.
‘Unfamiliar with how, you know there are some are some, illegal black market elements in the cannabis industry and if you don’t pay them, bad stuff happens,’ he added to KSBW.
Kidnapped and murdered tech boss Tushar Atre, 50, may have been the target of a robbery. Friends revealed he launched a cannabis company last year and may have fell into ‘black market’ deals
He was the CEO of website design company Atrenet and launched a licensed cannabis manufacturing company called Interstitial Systems last year. The Interstitial Systems office pictured above on Fern Street in Santa Cruz
He and his girlfriend Rachael Emerlye (together above in September 2017 in Vermont) were both involved in the cannabis industry. Cops say Emerlye is not a suspect in the case
The city of Santa Cruz confirmed he owned the new business, which operates out of Fern Street, and is designed to sell several brands of marijuana.
‘A year or so ago, he started a marijuana or cannabis manufacturing company,’ Atre’s friend Robert Blumberg said. ‘It was a company where the idea was to have several brands so the brands were the names you might have heard of once they came to market, not the name Interstitial Systems.’
‘We don’t know if that is connected to this murder quite yet,’ Santa Cruz County Office Public Information Officer Ashley Keehn said.
Sheriff deputies secured Interstitial Systems offices to look for potential evidence.
Atre’s long-distance girlfriend Rachael Emerlye is also in the cannabis industry with a company called Benevolence Bound, according to her Instagram account. Police said she is not a suspect in his case.
The investigation is ongoing and authorities have not released the manner of death.
Following his disappearance a friend said Atre had many ‘enemies’ in his work and neighbors reported he was involved in illicit activities.
‘He’s definitely new to the industry….Unfamiliar with how, you know there are some are some, illegal black market elements in the cannabis industry and if you don’t pay them, bad stuff happens,’ Grant Palmer (above), the CEO of CannaCruz, a well-established dispensary located just a block down from Atre’s cannabis business said
Atre’s friend Brent Bookler shared this photo on Facebook and a tribute on Wednesday after his death was announced saying: ‘I am heartbroken beyond words at the loss of Tushar Atre, one of my oldest, dearest friends’
Police believe multiple assailants burst into Atre’s multi-million dollar home that looks out onto the ocean at Pleasure Point on Tuesday at 3am. Atre’s multimillion dollar home on the 3000 block of Pleasure Point Drive pictured above
This map shows Tushar Atre’s home in Pleasure Point, Santa Cruz, California where he was kidnapped at 3am on Tuesday. The getaway car was found at 10am, 14 miles away on rural Soquel San Jose Road
He was last seen getting into a white BMW SUV at 3am on Tuesday morning. Cops found that car seven hours later 14 miles away, with his body inside
A statement from police to DailyMail.com Wednesday said: ‘The investigation is still ongoing, but we have reason to believe the motive was robbery.
‘We would like to let the community know we believe this is an isolated incident.’
Police say there have been arrests in the case but they are looking for more people, as per Kron4. They do not know the relationship between the suspects and Atre.
The Sheriff’s Office is looking for video from any of the businesses and homes along Soquel-San Jose Road and any video that may show Atre’s girlfriend’s white SUV.
Atre and Emerlye were dating long-distance as she lives in Massachusetts, but she often visited him and posted video to social media in his lavish ocean-front home on the 3000 block of Pleasure Point Drive.
Following Atre’s sudden disappearance, a friend of the tech boss revealed he had many enemies in his line of work.
‘Atre made enemies over his business deals. And specifically with his company,’ the friend, who chose to remain anonymous, told KPIX5.
Several neighbors said Atre was involved in questionable activity and illicit behavior.
One resident who spoke to ABC7 on condition of anonymity said: ‘Santa Cruz is notorious for different things going on. And you know, people with money sometimes get sucked into interesting situations.’
Atre’s long-distance girlfriend Rachael Emerlye is also in the cannabis industry with a company called Benevolence Bound, according to her Instagram account. Police said she is not a suspect in his case
Rachael shared this picture on Instagram on April 26 smiling with Atre. Police have not commented on her whereabouts
Atre’s girlfriend Rachael Edith Emerlye shared video of them (he is seen in the clip above) to Instagram on August 30 enjoying dinner at what she called the #perfectdatespot in NYC
She shared this picture in March posing in front of a surf board with the hashtag ‘#boyfriendadventures’ and tagged Atre in the post
Emerlye shared video (above) from inside his beachfront pad just last week
Atre has worked in Silicon Valley since the 1990s and spearheaded Atrenet, a corporate website design company, since 1996.
On his LinkedIn page he’s showered with glowing praise as a one-of-a kind and impressive leader.
However, reviews on employment rating site GlassDoor paint him in a very different light, as past employees accuse him of being abusive, selfish and ‘tyrannical to anyone he thinks is below him.’
One former disgruntled anonymous employee said: ‘I think Tushar Atre is the worst person I’ve ever met in my life and I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy to work for him.’
Another added: ‘Tushar Atre doesn’t value anyone but himself. You may get a robust product or a paycheck but it comes with a hefty price because this CEO thinks he is the only person in this world that matters. He scream abuse at employees. He treats people in ways you would not think possible.’
Another poster wrote: ‘Total abusive nightmare! The worst employment experience of my life! You’ve been warned — run away now!’
Santa Cruz County Office have searched the Interstitial Systems office. Police have made arrests in the case but are searching for more suspects
Atre, pictured left, was last seen getting in to a white BMW which some reports say was his girlfriend’s vehicle on Tuesday and his death was confirmed by police Wednesday
Police said that they are following a number of leads and that they believe there is more than one suspect involved in the kidnapping
Pictured above is a shot taken from AtreNet’s homepage where they say that they deliver web solutions for leading B2B companies
A former contractor agreed: ‘Tushar wants you to sacrifice your personal integrity, that he doesn’t have, and manipulate Atrenet team or clients to get what you want and show who has an upper hand.
Atre had lived in the area for about 20 years, neighbors say. He moved into the Pleasure Point Drive home two years ago. Atre is an active social media user and frequently posts photographs of himself surfing or looking out at the ocean from inside his house.
One neighbor reportedly said they ‘saw the BMW late Monday night on Pleasure Point while walking his dog’ and ‘he heard some sort of commotion in the morning.’
‘Somebody broke into his house last night and kidnapped him at 3am, we have no idea why, we have no idea who,’ a friend named Christopher Lochhead shared in a plea on Facebook on Tuesday.
‘We need everybody all of our friends the entire community to get behind this effort and support our sheriffs department and the FBI and law enforcement in finding Tushar.’