tushar atre

Tushar Atre, founder and CEO of AtreNet, was found dead Oct. 1 morning, after being kidnapped from his home on the Santa Cruz, Calif. Coast. Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Ashley Keehn told India-West the motive appears to be robbery and multiple suspects may be involved. (Santa Cruz Sheriff’s Department photo)

The body of an Indian American tech CEO was found in Santa Cruz, Calif., Oct. 1 morning, about seven hours after he was reportedly kidnapped from his home.

According to Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s reports, Tushar Atre, 50, the founder and CEO of AtreNet, was kidnapped from his ocean-front home on the Northern California coast at 3 a.m. Oct. 1. He was seen leaving in a 2008 white BMW SUV, which was apparently stolen from his girlfriend, Rachel Emerlye, who lives in Massachusetts, but was apparently visiting Atre that week, according to various news reports.

Later that day, Atre’s body was found about 10 miles away from his home, along with the stolen vehicle.

Ashley Keehm, a spokeswoman for the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s office, told India-West that no arrests had yet been made in the case, though multiple suspects are believed to be involved. Keehm said she could not confirm whether Emerlye was a person of interest in the case, but added: “All possibilities are being investigated.”

Keehm also could not confirm Atre’s manner of death, nor at what distance he was found from the vehicle. She also could not state what was stolen from the vehicle, noting that the information was part of the ongoing investigation, but did confirm that the car belonged to Emerlye.

Atre’s body is currently with the Santa Cruz County Coroner’s Office, who had not released a manner of death as of press time Oct. 3.

Keehm said the investigation is ongoing. In a press statement, the Sheriff’s Office said it believed the murder was “an isolated incident.”

According to his LinkedIn profile, Atre earned his B.A. in English Literature from New York University in 1992. He founded AtreNet, a web marketing and design firm, in 1996. AtreNet served some of the San Francisco Bay Area’s largest corporations, including Hewlett Packard, VMWare, Marvell, Verisign, LSI Logic, Seagate, and dozens of others, according to the company’s Web site.

Last year, Atre founded Interstitial Systems, a licensed cannabis dispensary, in Santa Cruz. A report from the Bureau of Cannabis Control indicated that the dispensary had been established in November 2018, and had a temporary license to distribute cannabis-related products to adults for medicinal purposes.

Law enforcement has not released a link between the pot dispensary and the murder, but Santa Cruz residents speculated to local media that Atre’s entrance into the market could have been a contributing factor in his murder.

“He’s definitely new to the industry. Basically, unfamiliar with the etiquette about how to do business. 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, CEO of CannaCruz, told KSBW television.

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