Courtesy photoTargeted: Police say the slaying of Klaus Gachter

Corpse discovery has Foster City police investigating first homicide in years

The discovery of a body in a waterfront Foster City home has police investigating the city’s first homicide in nearly six years.

A horrified maid found Klaus Gachter, 71, sprawled on his stomach on the kitchen floor of his home at 619 Waterbury Lane about 3 p.m. Friday, according to a neighbor.

As of Monday afternoon, the Foster City Police Department had not revealed a cause of death, but police said in a statement the killing “does not appear to be a random act of violence.”

Neighbor Dennis Stanwood said he saw Gachter’s maid run out of the home after her grisly discovery. The “frantic” woman had a thick Portuguese accent and Stanwood said he couldn’t understand her. She led him into the home.

After finding Gachter’s lifeless body, Stanwood went home and called 911.

“He was lying on the floor kind of sprawled on his stomach,” Stanwood said. “A stool was overturned, the kitchen TV was on, the lights were on.”

Also, an uncooked steak sat on a platter on the kitchen counter, indicating Gachter might have been preparing dinner before he was killed, Stanwood said.

The steak looked fresh and Gachter’s body had yet to become odorous. Stanwood saw blood, but no obvious trauma to the body. He initially thought Gachter had suffered a heart attack or stroke.

The mysterious killing has stunned neighbors, who say crime is rare in the area. The homicide is the first in Foster City since January 2006, when 50-year-old paraplegic Brandon Hepponstall was slashed to death in his home after refusing to sell 41-year-old Timothy Singler drugs. Singler later committed suicide.

“Foster City is probably the safest place in the United States,” Stanwood said. “Living on the water, you have friends come by on boats, you invite them in for a glass of wine.”

Gachter’s home — which Stanwood said has one of the nicest backyard canal views in the neighborhood — is likely worth upward of $1.2 million, according to real estate website Zillow. Gachter drove an older-model Ferrari, Stanwood said.

Gachter’s Facebook page describes him as an adventurer and world traveler who participated in charities. One picture appears to show him delivering a computer to a school in Nepal. In a 2009 photo, he snapped a picture at an event with the Dalai Lama.

Stanwood said he and other neighbors he spoke with did not know Gachter well, seeing him around only occasionally.

“I hear he traveled extensively,” Stanwood said. “It would have been fun to talk to the guy.”

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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