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Former Employees Arrested In Kidnap-Murder Of Santa Cruz Tech Executive Tushar Atre

SANTA CRUZ (CBS SF) -- Four suspects were in custody Thursday on murder, robbery and kidnapping charges in connection to the October 2019 slaying of tech executive Tushar Atre.

Santa Cruz County Sheriff Jim Hart said 22-year-old Kurtis Charters, 23-year-old Joshua Camps, and 22-year-old Stephen Lindsay -- all three from Southern California -- and being held in county jail. They were all arrested by deputies on Tuesday morning.

Tushar Atre murder suspects
(l-r) Joshua Camps, Kurtis Charters, Kaleb Charters, Stephen Lindsay

A fourth suspect -- Kaleb Charters, Kurtis' brother -- was arrested in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, and was awaiting extradition back to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Santa Cruz Sheriff Lt. Brian Cleveland said both Kaleb Charters and Lindsay were employees of Atre's marijuana cultivation business.

"We believe this was a robbery for monetary value," Cleveland said. "We do believe this was a planned event."

Hart said his investigators were preparing the evidence to the district attorney's office for charges later on Thursday. Over the last several months, deputies executed 62 search warrants related to the case.

"Four people who did an awful, awful thing are in custody," he said. "We have the right people."

Raw Video: Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Press Conference on Arrests In Tushar Atre Case

Hart also thanked Atre's family and friends for their patience while deputies pieced together what occurred on Oct. 1, 2019.

"When a murder occurs, this man was sleeping when people physically entered his home, kidnapped and murdered him," he said. "The expectation of the family was that this case was going to be resolved quickly, efficiently and justice was going to be served. But when you look at the evidence we had on Oct. 1 and Oct. 2 -- We had a murder scene on Soquel San Jose Road. We had a kidnapping and home invasion scene at Pleasure Point and we had a really grainy video. That was it."

"It turns out we had suspects from outside the area. We had this huge suspect pool that we had to narrow down. We spent about 3,000 person-hours on this case putting it all together."

On October 1, Atre, founder and CEO of web marketing firm AtreNet, was kidnapped from his beachfront home and found dead several hours later in a remote area of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The longtime Santa Cruz resident also ran a cannabis manufacturing company called Interstitial Systems on Fern Street in Santa Cruz.

Tushar Atre
Tushar Atre (Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office)

Atre, 50, was kidnapped from his home on the 3000 block of Pleasure Point Drive, according to sheriff's investigators. Deputies said more than one suspect kidnapped Atre. He was found hours later near his stolen BMW in a remote area of the Santa Cruz Mountains on property owned by Atre.

The coroner ruled Atre's death a homicide from a gunshot wound.

In November, authorities released a surveillance video showing three suspects walking near the victim's home. In addition, a $25,000 reward was increased to $150,000 in the case.

But Cleveland said the arrests were not the result of the reward.

"This didn't come from a tip or social media," he said. "This was the result of just a lot of hard work."


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