Blood and Money on Horseshoe Bay

Did a Texas millionaire's outrageous sex life lead to his murder?

Produced by Jay Young and Jenna Jackson

This story originally aired on Nov. 1, 2008. It was updated on May 29, 2010.

In the Texas Hill Country, just outside Austin, sits a little piece of paradise called Horseshoe Bay. Police Chief Bill Lane has patrolled these waterways for years and he says being assigned there is like dying and going to heaven.

The area is tranquil, beautiful and mostly affluent.

But the serenity of this tranquil setting was shattered in November 2005, when police were dispatched to the lakeside mansion of one of its most colorful, eccentric citizens, millionaire Charlie White.

"We felt, the night that we found the body, that this could be a very broad investigation," Lane tells "48 Hours Mystery" correspondent Peter Van Sant.

So Lane turned to a legendary band of lawmen, the Texas Rangers, and veteran Ranger Joey Gordon.

What did Gordon and an officer see, as they made their way into the house? "It looked very orderly. There was nothing out of place. But as we entered into the living room, we began to detect the odor of a decomposing body," the ranger remembers.

It was clear to Gordon that White had been brutally beaten. "We found that his ribs had been broken, he had received several blows into the jaw and head area," he recalls.

Gordon believes a large liquor bottle was used to smash Charlie's face. "To knock a tooth completely out and across a body and half way across a room takes significant amount of force," he explains.

The crime scene: See footage taken by police investigators inside Charlie White's mansion

An extension cord was also found wrapped several times around Charlie's neck.
Asked what ultimately led to his death, Gordon says, "The M.E,'s office listed blunt force trauma and strangulation as the cause of death."

Charlie's friends Rosanne and Jerome Davis, Carol Noble, Liz Taber, and Kathy Turner, soon learned of Charlie's fate. "It was horrible. We live in this beautiful community. These things aren't supposed to happen," Noble says.

It was hard to imagine that this larger-than-life man was gone. Besides his friends, Charlie left behind a family and an ex-wife.

"I wanted to go to college but I guess I wanted to marry him more," says Gerta, who was 16 when she first met Charlie at his military school prom.

"He was tall and good looking," she remembers. "We danced once. And I went home and told my parents that I had met the man I wanted to marry."

Charlie and Gerta went on to have five children. Darin was the youngest. "A lot of the memories came from his Little League coaching," Darin remembers. "I was the 7-year-old on the 8-year-old team. I remember one game where he sent me in the middle of the line with all the big kids and that was quite fun. And I came back with a big grin on my face."

Charlie made his fortune building a profitable chain of beauty schools throughout the Southwest. But the more successful he became, the more his marriage began to unravel.

Darin admits that he doesn't have any fond memories of his parents living together as a married couple.

So no one was surprised when in 1975, Charlie and Gerta got a divorce. But a far more serious tragedy was about to unfold. That same year, their 11-year-old daughter was struck by a car and eventually died. And in 2001, another son committed suicide. Charlie's friends say he never got over losing two children.

But Charlie moved on, eventually retiring to a life of leisure and luxury. "There was not enough time in the day to do everything Charlie wanted to do," remembers Liz Taber.

Asked what Charlie's passions in life were, Kathy Hasting tells Van Sant, "Women. Money, sports and women. "

Some of those women Kathy Hastings says were dates, many others were paid to party - high priced prostitutes.

How did she know?

"He told me," Hastings said. "Charlie would have sex with one girl on Thursday and maybe on the weekend he'd have sex with someone else. And he didn't keep it a secret."

Chief Lane says Charlie lived a life on the edge, one that he would consider risky. Police wondered if that risky lifestyle could have something to do with his murder.

"It could be that a hooker deal gone bad. Maybe the prostitute or the pimp took revenge on Charlie," Ranger Joey Gordon wonders.

At the crime scene, investigators continued piecing together the evidence. "He had a briefcase that he kept a lot of his business papers in. And this briefcase was open and dumped on top of his body," Gordon explains. "Somebody's making a statement with those papers. Could it be a bad business deal?"