STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
BURNET — The motel room death of a winery owner and chef, considered a “person of interest” in a fire at the winery, was ruled a suicide by the medical examiner’s office, officials said.
A cleaning crew found the body of 56-year-old Karl Hogsett at about 11 a.m. March 22 in a room at Comfort Inn, 810 U.S. 281 South in Burnet, according to the Burnet Police Department.
He had checked into the motel the previous day.
The Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled his death a suicide caused by a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Burnet Police Chief Paul Nelson said.
“There were definitely no evidence of any type of foul play,” Nelson said.
On March 18, four days prior to his death, the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office launched an investigation into a fire at Hogsett’s business, Zero 815 Winery in Hye.
Fire crews were called to the winery, 11157 U.S. 290, at 9:28 p.m. and doused a blaze that was contained to the tasting room, a fire official confirmed.
“The deceased was a person of interest in that case in Blanco County,” Nelson said.
On March 26, Hogsett’s wife and winery co-founder, Laura Hogsett, set up a GoFundMe account that included a possible reason for her husband’s death.
“We had a fire at the winery, which, given the circumstances, the insurance will not cover,” read the context of the post. “My husband suffered from undiagnosed (post-traumatic stress disorder) and recently took his own life because of this awful disease.”
A fire marshal’s office spokesman confirmed the incident was referred to the state agency for an investigation.
Karl Hogsett based the name of the winery on his wedding date: Aug. 8, 2015.
The company website described Hogsett as a professional chef and member of the World Master Chefs Society who “spent time in Germany touring the vineyards and winemaking facilities.”
His bio also stated he had started and owned more than six restaurants.
Attempts to reach a representative of the winery were unsuccessful.