The Marin County Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday that three suspects have been nabbed in connection with the fatal shooting of Steve Carter on Monday while he hiked with his Doberman pincsher in Fairfax.
The 67-year-old Carter was found shot to death multiple times on a trail off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in the Loma Alta Open Space Reserve.
Deputies tweeted just before 2:30 p.m. Wednesday that "community involvement" and "concern" helped with the manhunt and subsequent arrest of the persons of interest.
Earlier in the day, widow Lokita Carter also tried to describe her grief, less than 48 hours after her husband was killed on the popular Marin County trail.
"I am beyond devastated to face this situation while already going through intensive breast cancer treatment," she wrote on a GoFundMe page that's helping raise money to pay for her expenses at the Marin Cancer Institute. "His senseless and shocking death is incomprehensible to all of us, and this time is the most difficult."
"Please hold Steve and me close to your hearts and in your prayers," she continued. "I am shattered, shocked, enraged and so, so sad." Through a family friend, Lokita Carter asked for privacy and declined a request for an interview.
Officials late Tuesday released surveillance video from a Fairfax convenience store showing two of three people who are considered persons of interest after witnesses described them as acting suspiciously. Video shows a man wearing a distinctive white hat with what is believed to be a California bear on it and a woman with dreadlocks.
The sheriff's office on Wednesday released a photo of the third person of interest, a white man with a blond beard, seen wearing a blue beanie, sunglasses, and backpacking gear.
"We have a great desire to talk to these people," Lt. Doug Pittman said. "If nothing else they were present in and around the time when this assault took place."
The motive behind Carter's death is still a mystery.
Pittman said his 2003 silver Volkswagen Jetta was most likely possibly stolen, and deputies are looking for the car, which has a California license plate 6PPG662.
In a statement sent out late Tuesday, Logan Rose, director of the Ecstatic Living Institute, wrote how saddened he was that Carter had died. Carter had co-founded the center with his wife, Lokita, 16 years ago, and the two had moved to Marin County to treat Lokita Carter's cancer. He said the two have traveled the world, leading workshops to about 20,000 people in the "art of sexual ecstasy."
"Steve and Lokita Carter devoted their lives to helping people connect their hearts to their sexuality. That's what their life is about, to remove the taboo around sexuality and weave it beautifully into the human experience," Rose said via email. "A lot of their work was not about sex. It was about being in your heart and living life from there."
George Bonser, 56, a network engineer in Silicon Valley took a workshop with his partner with both Carters in 2009 at Harbin Hot Springs. Bonser described Steve Carter as a “very open-hearted, loving soul.” And then he added: “I could see no reason why anyone would do this.”
As for what the couple taught: “They teach about creating a bond with your partner, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Tantra is about trust, worshipping the synergy between two people.”
Making things even more difficult is that Harbin Hot Springs in Middletwon, burned last month during the devastating Valley Fire - a beloved place where the Carters led many workshops, Rose said. On top of that Lokita Carter is still dealing with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Her GoFundMe page describes how the couple moved from Costa Rica this summer to Marin County for treatment.
Out-of-pocket cancer expenses could soar to $30,000, Rose wrote on the fundraising page. The couple was staying with "generous friends" in West Marin County, but the couple had been living on a fixed income.
"It’s like all the forces in the universe are coming together in an evil way,” Bonser said.
But Carter's death, Rose stressed in an email, "is the most devastating blow."
"We are heartbroken," he said. "We will do our best to honor Steve and Lokita by continuing to devote ourselves to teaching people the art of ecstatic living, something that they did together so beautifully.”
NBC Bay Area's Rhea Mahbubani, Jodi Hernandez and Stephanie Chuang contributed to this report.