Police investigate homicide
People around here shouldn’t fear for their safety, despite the fact that police haven’t made an arrest in the recent shooting of a Port Aransas visitor whose body was found on the beach on San Jose Island, a police offi cial said.
Police found the body of Chris Tiensch, 43, of West Lake Hills, an Austin suburb, on Sept. 15 during a search for Tiensch after his family reported him missing.
“A number of local interests have expressed concern that this may have been a random act of violence,” Port Aransas Police Chief Scott Burroughs said in a news release issued Monday, Sept. 19.
“While that theory cannot be ruled out with 100 percent certainty, crimes of this nature seldom involve a random act,” the release said. “Port Aransas has been and continues to be a safe community. It’s always a good idea to maintain situational awareness, whether you are in a small town or a major metropolitan area. The evidence does not suggest that the people in Port Aransas face a greater risk now than they did prior to this incident.
“On a personal note,” Burroughs added, “I am not any more concerned for the safety of my family or friends than I was two weeks ago.”
Tiensch (rhymes with “French”) was a successful former business executive and the married father of a 13- year- old boy and an 11-year-old girl.
He formerly was employed as executive director of the European division of SBC Communications, according to Dinah Welsh, a family friend who has acted as spokesman for the family since Tiensch’s disappearance. He later joined a startup company, BMD wireless, Welsh said.
Most recently, Tiensch had been working as a consultant and was embroiled in heated civil litigation in the business world. He recently had won a $430,000 settlement in federal court, according to Welsh and published reports.
Tiensch drove from his Austin-area home to Port Aransas on Sunday, Sept. 11, to go fishing, according to police.
He visited Port Aransas by himself as “just sort of a mental vacation, with all the pressure he’d had, because of the lawsuit,” Welsh said. “… I think it was just an ongoing pressure he had been under.”
Tiensch checked into the Holiday Inn Express motel at 727 S. 11th St. at about 2:50 p.m. Sunday. He spoke with his wife, Dane, on the phone Sunday, Welsh said, adding that it was an ordinary conversation.
Tiensch said he had caught some fish and was going to get something to eat, Welsh said. He also called his parents and his sister, she said.
When Tiens ch’s w ife couldn’t get hold of him the next day, she got worried and contacted hotel staff, Welsh said. Tiensch and his wife normally kept in close contact, Welsh said.
Hotel staff discovered Tiensch’s cell phone, wallet and car keys in his room, she said. His vehicle was in the parking lot.
Police were contacted.
Tiensch’s cell phone, credit and debit cards weren’t used after the night he arrived in Port Aransas, Welsh said.
Port Aransas police began searching for Tiensch. The Texas Rangers, Travis County Sheriff ’s Office and other agencies assisted.
As part of the effort, police searched the Port Aransas area in a low-flying helicopter. An officer in the chopper spotted Tiensch’s body along the shore of a remote part of San Jose Island about 10:30 a.m. Sept. 15.
Police had no earlier indication, Burroughs said, that Tiensch may have gone to San Jose Island, which is accessible only by boat or small plane. Burroughs said an autopsy the next day confirmed that Tiensch had been shot and that it didn’t look like he did it himself. The chief refused to say how many gunshot wounds Tiensch suffered.
Burroughs did say that he believes Tiensch wasn’t shot on San Jose Island. He believes the victim washed up there.
Tiensch was a triathlete and adventurer who had climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Everest, according to Welsh and police.
“After all that, it’s hard to believe it could end like this,” Welsh said.
The Port Aransas Police Department is the lead agency in the ongoing investigation. This week, Burroughs said his officers were obtaining subpoenas and search warrants in connection with the slaying.
Police are seeking “a number of records that may point to viable investigative leads,” Burroughs said. He wouldn’t discuss specifics, but he did say that “no significantly productive leads have been confirmed at this time.”
Tiensch had visited Port Aransas perhaps once or twice a year since 2008, but not before that, Welsh said.
Tiensch’s family is devastated, Welsh said.
“But they have incredible family and friends that have really come to their side to support them,” Welsh said. “I think his wife, Dane – she is a remarkably strong woman. Still, she is shaken. She has lost her soul mate. … And the kids – they are extremely distraught. They adored their dad.”
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