A 67-year-old hiker and tantric therapist walking his Doberman pinscher was killed by "multiple gunshot wounds," the Marin County Sheriff's Office said, in a case that has detectives actively searching for the killer and puzzled as to what would have led to the violent death on a popular trail.
The Marin County Coroner wouldn't immediately identify the man, but his friends and colleagues confirmed it was Steve Carter, the co-founder of the Ecstatic Living Institute in the Napa Valley and a longtime leader at SkyDancing Tantra, which espouses "ecstasy is the orgasm of the spirit" in Middletown.
"It just rips a hole in your heart," said one of Carter's friends, Giselle Bison, who described Carter as a kind and gentle soul.
Why Carter was killed is still a mystery, though late Tuesday afternoon, the sheriff's office described two or three people who were reported to have acted suspiciously that authorities would like to talk to.
Earlier on Tuesday, Lt. Doug Pittman said the sheriff's office received a 911 call Monday just after 6 p.m. reporting a body off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard on Old Railroad Grade trail in the Loma Alta Open Space Preserve. The man had been staying with friends in Marin County, Pittman said, and had simply been out walking his dog, which was shot while tethered to his leash, too. The dog survived.
"What led to the circumstances of his death, that's what we're trying to determine right now," Pittman said, adding that authorities are unclear about any type of motive.
Pittman said detectives have a lot of "active leads." People have called in to report having heard gunshots. In addition, at about 5:15 p.m., Pittman said that there were reports of shots being fired, but they were further down the road. He added this is deer hunting season, too.
Pittman said that the victim's 2003 silver Volkswagen Jetta was most likely possibly stolen, and deputies are looking for the car, which has a California license plate 6PPG662.
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. The two have traveled the world, leading workshops to about 20,000 people in the "art of sexual ecstasy."
Investigators believe the 67yo man was shot multiple times here at Loma Alta Preserve on trail that hikers say is pretty popular.— Stephanie Chuang (@StephChuang) October 6, 2015
“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."
Making things even more difficult is that Harbin Hot Springs in Middletwon, burned last month during the devastating Valley Fire, where the Carters led many workshops, Rose said. On top of that Lokita Carter is still dealing with stage 3 cancer. But Carter's death "is the most devastating blow."
"We are heartbroken," Rose 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.”