PORT ARANSAS, Texas — In the summer of 2011, Austin businessman Christopher Tiensch told his family he was heading to the Texas coast to relax.
He never came home.
Four days later, his body washed up in Port Aransas with a bullet wound. Investigators found blood in his room at a Holiday Inn Express.
The crime remains unsolved eight years later – one of the biggest mysteries in Port Aransas.
“That’s what kind-of gives people that comfort in their safety is that if something happens, you can fix it by finding evidence and [an] arrest is made and they are convicted," said Sgt. Mike Hannon, who is investigating the cold case. “When there is something unsolved, the result of what that person did doesn’t change. There is a life lost. But people, their safety is kind-of out of balance.”
Tiensch had been going through an especially ugly legal fight when he decided to get away for a few days.
Those who knew him said that decision wasn't unusual. He had always loved spur-of-the-moment trips, whether it was to an overseas destination or somewhere closer to home in Austin.
"That was one of the things that kept Chris going," his friend Kevin Cooper said. "He had a wanderlust about him that made him want to do adventurous things."
In Austin, his wife grew worried after 24 hours passed without hearing from him.
She called the police as time went on.
A Port Aransas police report shows officers searched his hotel room and found blood everywhere: the walls, drapes, bathroom floors, shower curtains, room ceilings, pictures on the walls and lampshades.
Missing person posters went up all over Port Aransas.
Back in Austin, friends of the Tiensch family – including Dinah Welsh – gathered to console Chris' wife and two young children.
"I'll never forget that feeling," Welsh said. "You always hope for the best, but [there was] that sense that something was terribly wrong."
Chris' wife met with investigators and told them about his ongoing legal fight with his employer.
According to her statement to police, her husband had reported illegal business practices and received death threats. She also described a recent incident where "two people were observed trespassing inside their fenced property near their residence," the report said.
As investigators searched by air, by ground and by boat, a state police helicopter saw Chris' body washed up on a nearby island about eight miles from Port Aransas.
"It's just that point at which all your hopes have been dashed, and there is just a hard reality," Welsh said.
Sgt. Hannon said investigators have run down leads from Port Aransas to Austin and beyond.
"There was evidence that eliminated people, alibis, things like that," he said.
Cooper said he often thinks of his friend and all the questions that still surround what happened.
"There has been no justice," he said. "We know he was murdered, but we don't know how or why."
"KVUE Crime Files" is an ongoing investigative series, looking into cold cases in Central Texas and beyond. The first installment of the series focused on the 1991 Austin yogurt shop murders.
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