Sheriff Carlos Carrizales said Tuesday that deputies had been sent to the relative's home at the ranch on Wofford Lane as part of their investigation into the Sept. 26 killing of the rancher/businessman.
“During a follow-up investigation into the Sept. 26 death of Brien Hickman, investigators went to the residence of Mike Stuart to gather additional details,” Carrizales said in a brief, official statement.
“While at the scene, investigators heard a gunshot from behind the residence. It was found that Stuart had taken his own life.”
Carrizales said, shortly after the incident Tuesday, that an investigation was still ongoing and that he could not comment further.
A family friend confirmed that Stuart was married to Hickman’s sister and he lived in a house on the ranch property near the residence where Hickman lived.
Carrizales is expected to release more information later. No arrests have been made in connection with Hickman’s death.
Two rewards were recently announced seeking information on this killing.
Coastal Bend Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 reward and at least one private individual also has offered a $5,000 reward for information that could lead to the arrest of a suspect.
Hickman, a local rancher, businessman and lifelong Beeville resident, was shot and killed early in the day of Sept. 26, apparently as he was leaving his ranch on Wofford Lane east of the U.S. Highway 181 Bypass.
Family friends said Hickman was found lying on the ground outside his vehicle bleeding from a single gunshot wound to the head.
Authorities who had been at the scene said there was no gun near the victim, suggesting that it was not a self-inflicted gunshot.
Hickman had been working at the Sikorsky Aerospace Maintenance operation at the Chase Field Industrial and Airport Complex and was one of the employees who was losing his job there because of the facility’s closing. But family friends said he had found another job.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.