GAINESVILLE, Fla. - A man with Central Florida ties is now facing charges for a cold case in Gainesville.
The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office says in 2010, a 16-year-old boy was at home playing video games, when someone came in and shot him to death.
Nearly 14 years later, the sheriff’s office thinks it’s solved one piece of that puzzle, but other pieces are still out there. His family and friends are now speaking out, hoping for answers.
Sebastian Ochsenius was 16-years-old. School records from Buchholz High show he ranked near the top of his class. Those close to him described him as methodical and hard-working. He was a star wrestler. A loving, generous brother. And a kind, supportive friend.
"When I lost him, I was so angry," his father told FOX 35 News.
On June 29, 2010, he spent the day helping his brother, Boris Ochsenius Jr., move into his new home. That night, his friend Brian Hull came over to play a video game called Red Dead Redemption.
The boys got frustrated at a treasure-hunting level of the Western-style game, and Ochsenius walked out through the kitchen, going to the computer to look for tips online to help them pass the level. It was the last thing he ever did.
The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office says someone came in through an unlocked side door that led into the kitchen and shot him. Hull says he heard a noise but didn’t realize it was a gunshot. The teenager had never heard one before. In the middle of the night, in the safety of his best friend’s house, that was the furthest thing from his mind. It wasn’t until he heard Ochsenius’ parents calling 911 that he understood what he’d heard.
"I was just sitting there listening, thinking, please, Lord, please don't let this happen.’"
Ochsenius’ father, Boris Ochsenius Sr., came out when he heard the gunshots, but it was too late to see who fired them. He just saw his son lying on the kitchen floor, with four bullet holes through him. The father fell to the ground and scooped his son’s head into his lap, trying to stop the bleeding.
"I knew he was dying," he told FOX 35 News. "I knew he wasn’t going to come back."
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He says a deputy had to take him away and take him outside. Hull stood in the bedroom, frozen. He remembers a deputy coming to him, telling him to close and cover his eyes, and guiding him out of the house so he wouldn’t have to see his friend on the ground with a bullet through his head. He walked out to the curb and sat there, motionless, until the sun came up.
At some point, Boris Ochsenius Jr. joined. His mom had called him and told him to come over as soon as possible, telling him in a panic, "Something so tragic has happened." When he got to the scene, he saw Hull and his parents sitting outside. His father was still covered with his brother's blood. He knew things would never be the same.
"To my fault, I don’t talk about it often. Possibly because of what you’re seeing now," he said, wiping tears from his eyes. "It’s difficult to not get emotional."
Although the brothers were ten years apart, they were very close. The older sibling feels both a "brotherly" and "fatherly" love for the boy he’d helped raise.
"What I had to miss was racing cars with him. What I had to miss was celebrating his 18th birthday. Taking him to Vegas on his 21st," said Ochsenius Jr. "His 30th birthday just passed. So I missed telling him, ‘You got old.’ A lot missed."
What added to the pain of that loss was never knowing why this happened or who was responsible. Alachua County Sheriff Emery Gainey says the investigation simply hit a brick wall.
"It’s very frustrating, obviously, for us investigators and detectives, when they don't have leads or getting information to go on," said Sheriff Gainey. "But because of their dedication, they continue."
Gainey says the evidence they got in 2021 provided them with some answers. At the moment, he says he won’t be elaborating on what that evidence included.
However, it was enough to lead them to an arrest. Timothy Eugene Thomas, 33, has now been indicted for Ochsenius’ murder. Thomas was already in prison when the sheriff’s office made this connection.
He had been arrested in Orlando in 2011 for armed robbery, kidnapping, and drug charges and was sentenced to four years in prison. But court documents show after he was released, he didn’t make it long before violating parole. A judge issued a warrant for Thomas’ arrest, saying he’d failed to notify his parole officer that he’d moved.
Law enforcement officers believe that’s why, when a Monroe County deputy tried to stop him in a car with stolen plates in 2015, he opened fire.
A deputy shot in the encounter survived, thanks to a ballistics vest. Thomas was sent to serve a life sentence in prison. Now, he’s been transferred to Alachua County, accused of taking a teen’s life.
"It’s highly likely – or at least possible – that he may be involved in other crimes that other agencies are investigating or that, quite frankly, law enforcement is not aware of at this point," said Sheriff Gainey.
As it relates to Ochsenius’ murder, Thomas is now charged with burglary and with first-degree murder committed during the trafficking of drugs.
The sheriff clarified that his office believes Thomas’ actions in drug trafficking are connected to the homicide but wouldn’t say in what capacity. He says they expect to release more information about that soon. Sheriff Gainey also said investigators have no reason to believe Ochsenius or anyone in his family was involved in drug trafficking in any way. Instead, the Sheriff’s Office says they believe Thomas was at the wrong house.
Having that question answered still doesn’t put the Ocshenius family at ease. They aren’t sure whether it’s possible justice will ever be served, even if Thomas is convicted of the murder.
"If he died and my son came back? That’s justice," said Ochsenius Sr.
Ochsenius Sr. says he hopes to one day get the opportunity to speak with Thomas and ask him why he did what the Sheriff’s Office says he did.
"I want him to know how much damage he did," said Ochsenius Sr. "Maybe he doesn’t care. But I want him to know what he did. How much pain he caused my family."
The sheriff’s office is still looking for at least one other person. The District Attorney says investigators believe there was at least one person involved in the crime who was inside the house when Ochsenius was shot.
In FOX 35’s sit-down interview with Hull, he mentioned he’d thought he’d heard multiple people before the shooting.
"They were trying to keep their voice quiet," he told FOX 35.
The sheriff’s office was also looking for the person who lent Thomas the car he was driving and a woman they say was in the car when Ochsenius was shot. Investigators say the car owner and the passenger may be one and the same, but they aren’t sure. Investigators are asking for the public’s help with that. The Sheriff described the woman they were looking for as being short, Hispanic, having a heavy build, and being around 20 at the time of the crime, meaning she’d be about 33 now. The car Thomas borrowed was a white or cream-colored Kia Sportage.
Sheriff Gainey wanted to emphasize that the woman they were looking for was not in any trouble. They’re just hoping to ask her some questions.
"This is not over. This is not done yet," said Ochsenius Jr. "We are now on the next step of healing, and hopefully, we can begin to figure out what healing feels like. Because I don't know yet."
Ochsenius Sr. says he’s still not comfortable with the word "closure." He prefers "peace of mind."
"At least they found out who did it," he said.