What caused a man's death in a Beaumont hotel room? - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

What caused a man's death in a Beaumont hotel room?

Posted:

Courtesy ABC News

At first glance, Louisiana oilman Greg Fleniken's death looked to police like it was from natural causes.

"That's what we had just figured it must be at the scene," Beaumont Police detective Scott Apple told ABC News' "20/20."

On Sept. 15, 2010, Fleniken walked into his room 348 in the Elegante Hotel in Beaumont, Texas, but he never checked out.

Watch Greg Fleniken's story on ABC News' "20/20" on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, at 9 p.m. CT

Hours later, Beaumont police found 55-year-old Fleniken dead on the floor, with the television still on, the air conditioner off, and more than $1,000 of Fleniken's cash still in the room. Candy bars, soda, and cigarettes were near the bed.

"I thought, well, those damn cigarettes," Miles Martin, Fleniken's friend since childhood, told "20/20." "They finally...snuck up on him."

In his initial investigation, detective Apple learned that Fleniken, a travelling businessman, was a creature of habit, staying at home in Louisiana on the weekends and staying at the Elegante Hotel during the week.

"He'd set up, and that was his routine for the evenings," Apple said. "He smoked a lot, and he had his candy bars, because he had a sweet tooth."

Fleniken was successful in the oil business and known to have many friends. "He'd give you...not only the shirt off his back, but the shoes off his feet," said Martin of his friend.

According to Apple, Fleniken's body was immediately taken away to the medical examiner to essentially confirm that his cause of death was a heart attack.

But medical examiner Dr. Tommy Brown found that the body suffered severe internal damage, with broken ribs, lacerations to the liver and scrotum, and a hole in the heart, all caused, according to Brown, by blunt force trauma.

Brown ruled Fleniken's death a homicide.

Apple worked tirelessly to find someone in Beaumont with the means, motive and opportunity to commit the crime. Aside from a circuit breaker in Fleniken's room needing to be fixed that night, nothing unusual happened at the hotel. Apple questioned the nearby hotel guests, electricians from Wisconsin who were working in one of the refineries in the area.

"They said, 'Oh, we … hardly ever saw him. We don't know anything," Apple recalled.

Fleniken's widow Susie Fleniken was desperate for answers and hired private investigator Ken Brennan, a former New York police officer and Drug Enforcement Administration agent, now living in Florida.

"She wanted to see if I could find out who killed her husband," Brennan said.

After meeting with Susie Fleniken to eliminate her as a suspect in her husband's death, Brennan went to Beaumont, Texas, and met with detective Apple to work on the investigation.

"It isn't like I need the police to do an investigation, but it certainly makes the job a hell of a lot easier," Brennan said.

Brennan and Apple began by reviewing the case file, going through the hotel room and even taking a closer look at the victim.

They eliminated the possibility of a robbery, since Fleniken's money was still in the room, and after checking out Fleniken's co-workers at the oil company, they found he had no enemies. The handyman who came to Fleniken's room to fix his circuit breaker also had an air-tight alibi.

Brennan and Apple only had the hotel's security camera footage, crime scene photographs, and the knowledge of the broken circuit, until Brennan had a breakthrough that he shared with Apple.

"I said, 'I think I know how this guy died,'" Brennan recalled.

"I said, 'I think I know when it happened...I think I know who killed him, and I think I know how we're going to catch him.'"

Tune in to ABC News' "20/20" to find out how Greg Fleniken died on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, at 9 p.m. CT

Read on ABC News

  • Padre Island National Seashore, South Beach Temporarily Closed to Vehicle Traffic

    Padre Island National Seashore, South Beach Temporarily Closed to Vehicle Traffic

    The Padre Island National Seashore will be closing off the area known as South Beach to vehicle traffic beginning at 6:00 PM Tuesday.Early Tuesday the National Weather Service issued a Coastal Flood Advisory for Nueces and Kleberg counties from 10:00 PM Tuesday until Wednesday at 12 Noon. Representatives with the Padre Island National Seashore say they are closing off South Beach to traffic during the advisory.Park officials say vehicles will be allowed back on the beach as soon as conditions...More >>
    The Padre Island National Seashore will be closing off the area known as South Beach to vehicle traffic beginning at 6:00 PM Tuesday.Early Tuesday the National Weather Service issued a Coastal Flood Advisory for Nueces and Kleberg counties from 10:00 PM Tuesday until Wednesday at 12 Noon. Representatives with the Padre Island National Seashore say they are closing off South Beach to traffic during the advisory.Park officials say vehicles will be allowed back on the beach as soon as conditions...More >>
  • Hours After Arrest Warrant Is Issued, Suspect is Caught

    Hours After Arrest Warrant Is Issued, Suspect is Caught

    Daniel Martinez, 32, has been arrested on Theft and Burglary charges on Tuesday. It was back on August 21 when Corpus Christi police raided a home along the 1700 block of Nile Dr.Early Tuesday morning, police got arrest warrants for Martinez stemming from a raid of a home along the 1700 block of Nile. Hours later, Martinez was pulled over along the 6400 block of Vincent Drive. Police officers recognized Martinez as a wanted person and arrested him. The truck he was driving was taken to the Co...More >>
    Daniel Martinez, 32, has been arrested on Theft and Burglary charges on Tuesday. It was back on August 21 when Corpus Christi police raided a home along the 1700 block of Nile Dr.Early Tuesday morning, police got arrest warrants for Martinez stemming from a raid of a home along the 1700 block of Nile. Hours later, Martinez was pulled over along the 6400 block of Vincent Drive. Police officers recognized Martinez as a wanted person and arrested him. The truck he was driving was taken to the Co...More >>
  • Terror Group Posts "A Second Message to America"

    Terror Group Posts "A Second Message to America"

    (CNN) -- The ISIS terror group has published a video titled "A second message to America," showing the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff.The video also threatens the life of British captive, David Haines.Sotloff speaks to the camera before he is killed, saying he is "paying the price" for U.S. intervention.The masked ISIS figure in the video speaks to U.S. President Barack Obama, telling him, "Just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike...More >>
    (CNN) -- The ISIS terror group has published a video titled "A second message to America," showing the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff.The video also threatens the life of British captive, David Haines.Sotloff speaks to the camera before he is killed, saying he is "paying the price" for U.S. intervention.The masked ISIS figure in the video speaks to U.S. President Barack Obama, telling him, "Just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike...More >>
  • Submit a news tip

    Do you know of something that would be a good news story?  Enter your email address and select "Submit"  to send it to 12 News HD.  You can also call the news tip line at 409-838-1212

    * denotes required fields
    We're sorry, but only one entry is allowed per person.
    Thank you for your continued interest.

    Thank you for submitting your news idea to 12News HD!