GEORGETOWN, Texas — A murder that sent chills through the Williamson County community of Georgetown finally ended with a 60-year prison sentence more than two years after the disappearance of a well-known businessman.
Harvey Huber, the decade-long owner of Huber Auto Repair, went missing on Feb. 25, 2020. His body was never found, but his killer was.
The KVUE Defenders obtained never-before-seen pictures and videos of the scenes investigated by local and state law enforcement to track down Huber’s killer, who last month confessed to killing Huber, accepting a 60-year prison sentence and confessing in a Williamson County courtroom.
Georgetown, one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, hasn’t dealt with many murders throughout its history.
“We don't work a lot of homicides and we don't work homicides where there's not a body, a murder weapon or a confession,” said Georgetown Police Department Detective Kirby Shoemake, who led the Huber murder investigation. “You have your Facebook detectives, your investigators and everybody had their opinion on what happened and everybody wanted to know … people were scared because they didn't know what had happened.”
A day after Huber disappeared, on Feb. 26, 2020, Shoemake and investigators were called to Huber Auto Repair after he was reported missing. He was reportedly last seen around 9:30 p.m. the night before, still at the shop.
“We walked all … the way from Georgetown to Bartlett, where he lives, looking for him,” said Rick Jowers, Huber’s brother-in-law. “A good-hearted person. I'd never seen Harvey in a fight. I'd never seen him angry. He was friends with everybody.”
Jowers, family members, and volunteers searched for days. Texas EquuSearch also joined the effort. Georgetown police received assistance from the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, the Texas Rangers and the Attorney General’s Office.
After days of searching and no sign of Huber, the family’s instinct grew sharper.
“We knew pretty much what had happened and who had done it at that time,” Jowers said.
PHOTOS: Harvey Huber with family, friends
Huber was like a brother for Jowers; for many in Georgetown, he was a friend.
“Everybody knew Harvey. He … took care of the poor. He took care of the rich. He took care of whoever needed help. In fact, he … took care of Jimmy, the guy that killed him,” Jowers said.
Zeroing in on a suspect
Jimmy Tschoerner, a friend of Huber’s, worked as a tow truck driver for a Georgetown company. Investigators said he had an “ongoing sexual relationship” with Huber’s wife, Melissa, for nearly a year before the murder, according to court documents.
According to Shoemake, evidence showed that Melissa Huber was not involved and cell phone data showed she was at home when the murder happened.
The night of Huber’s disappearance, investigators learned that Tschoerner was driving the tow truck as surveillance video picked it up driving through Georgetown and at the auto repair shop in the hours after Huber was last heard from.
"I had a suspicion that Jimmy had a role in it,” Det. Shoemake said. “He answered your questions. He was cooperative, to a point. I knew he was hiding something from us.”
In an audio clip never shared publicly but obtained by the KVUE Defenders, Tschoerner spoke to his boss in the days after Huber’s disappearance but before his arrest.
“I’m rolling on,” Tschoerner said. “I’m starting a new life.”
He asked his boss to keep the conversation between them, but it was recorded and provided to investigators.
“I’ll still be in the United States. I’ll be out there, but everything, my social security card and everything will be cleared. I’ll be able to start a new identity. Every now and then, you know from an anonymous phone, from a different area … I might call you to say hi for about five minutes,” he said.
At the time of the conversation, Tschoerner had already been interviewed by police.
“If they think I was in the wrong, they would have arrested me last night. You know how that goes,” he said. “If they were going to arrest me for something, they already would have. You gotta have a body and you gotta have a weapon. That is true.”
Speaking of the affair, Tschoerner said he should have just gone back to being friends with Melissa Huber.
“She’s going to be thinking 'Jimmy really loved me,' and 'Jimmy put his life on the line for me,'” he said.
He told his boss he’d miss him and said he was a good boss and a good person.
“I’m not proud of a lot of things I did,” he said while sounding like he was crying.
Details of the conversation were provided to investigators, which sent them to the tow company where the truck Tschoerner drove the night of Huber’s disappearance was parked.
“That's when we found blood on the bed of the tow truck, and that's when we knew,” Shoemake said.
The tow truck was the first crime scene investigators knew about, which set off a fury of investigative activity and expedited how quickly forensic data was collected.
“It went from just doing a basic investigation, trying to find Harvey, to it went to basically a lightning speed,” said Shoemake, who was now working his first homicide investigation ever.
Piecing it all together
Newly obtained surveillance video by the KVUE Defenders shows Tschoerner’s tow truck leaving Huber Auto Repair the night of the disappearance. At the back of the truck, a tarp and an object resembling the size of a corpse can be seen. It was the same tow truck that had blood in the back.
The video combined with cell phone data led investigators to a second crime scene – a tunnel just off I-35, under the driveway of a private property entrance.
New photos obtained by the KVUE Defenders show what investigators found at the tunnel – blood and what turned out to be a fragment of Huber’s skull.
“He went to the culvert where he had dismembered Harvey and cleaned ... up a little bit,” Shoemake said.
In a sit-down interview with KVUE’s Bryce Newberry, Shoemake said Tschoerner was interrupted in the middle of committing the crime.
“In the midst of him committing this crime, he was actually in contact with the police,” Newberry asked.
“Yes, he was,” Shoemake said. “The night of the 25th, the night Harvey was killed, we also had an officer-involved shooting where two of our officers were shot and TIP Tow is our contract wrecker. So when we needed our patrol unit towed to the office, Jimmy was the one that showed up on scene and towed our vehicle to the police department.”
It took about a week to find yet another crime scene, right back where Huber was last seen, at the shop.
Cell phone data pointed investigators to the back of the lot, where data showed a lot of back-and-forth movement near the RV where Tschoerner sometimes stayed, according to court documents.
Shoemake noticed tin on the ground near the RV entrance, but his instinct said it was out of place.
“I just picked the tin up, looked underneath it, and it was damp,” Shoemake said. “I just let it be for a minute to let it dry out. And when it dried … it looked red as in blood.”
At that time, the evidence only pointed to a charge of tampering with a human corpse. Investigators still didn’t have a weapon, body or confession. The murder charge didn’t come for months.
“It was because of DNA,” Shoemake said. “And also still trying to locate all the different crime scenes and processing the crime scenes.”
More than two years after the crime, in April, Tschoerner accepted a plea deal from Williamson County prosecutors – a 60-year prison sentence in exchange for his guilty plea.
One day before the plea was entered, a pre-trial hearing was held, and lawyers were preparing for the case to go to trial on May 20. But Tschoerner opted for the plea deal, breaking down in tears in court and confessing to the crime.
“He was my friend and everything and I killed him. It was over nothing and that's why I wrote the family that letter about what actually happened so they're not always in limbo. It's a sad situation and, you know, I apologize with all my heart,” he said in a courtroom packed with Huber’s family members.
In response to an interview request with Melissa Huber, their daughter shared this statement:
“Harvey Huber’s immediate family would like to thank all involved in bringing Harvey’s murderer to justice. From the day Dad went missing, we were humbled by those who searched for him. We have remained humbled by the sensitivity of those who investigated and prosecuted Harvey's murderer knowing the situation was complex and complicated. Although the sentence was lengthy, we pray that he never gets out of prison, as his sentence will never be as long as the sentence we as a family will serve not having dad to share our lives with. We continue to stand by our mother and each other as we learn to define what a new normal is for us. We will continue to pick up the pieces of our lives honoring dad as a good father, husband, grandfather and friend. We hope that someday all those who have strong feelings about the case and our mother will find peace and forgiveness as we have. We are choosing to live for the future for our children and not dwell on the tragic events of the past. We will not allow our father, husband and friend to continue to be defined how he died, we will continue to define him how he lived.”
Investigators were reassured hearing Tschoerner’s courtroom confession.
“It was the first time that I had actually heard Jimmy say he had killed Harvey,” Shoemake said. “We were right. And it was just a huge relief knowing that we had all the evidence we collected.”
During the hearing, Tschoerner’s defense attorney, Marc Chavez, handed a letter to prosecutors from his client. The KVUE Defenders obtained the letter, which detailed Tschoerner’s account of what happened. He wrote, “I hit him in the back of the head three times with a(n) ax. He was dead.”
“Mr. Tschoerner contacted us and wanted to put an end to it all. He didn't feel that a long, drawn-out, emotional trial was the best for the family, the community and even this court,” Chavez said in an interview with KVUE.
But even with the guilty plea, some family members still don’t have closure. Without Huber’s body, they still haven’t held a funeral.
“I need something of Harvey's,” Jowers said. “It's not a day goes by that I don't think about it ... It's not a day goes by that she don't cry, my wife doesn't cry, about it.”
In the letter, Tschoerner wrote that he put Huber’s body in trash bags and spread the bags between dumpsters at various fast food restaurants in Georgetown and Round Rock.
“The worst thing [that] could happen is not having Harvey's body. I was really hoping that that that would be part of the plea deal,” Jowers said. “It's been hard to just say I know it's over because, is it really, until I have something to show me that he's really gone, that I can put him to rest, lay him to rest.”
The auto repair shop is still open in Georgetown and now operating as H&H Auto Repair.
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