The body of 67-year-old Steve Carter was found by a hiker about 6pm on the Gunsight Fire Road on White’s Hill, just west of Fairfax in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The victim’s Doberman was beside the body – and had suffering at least one gunshot wound but is expected to survive.
Police have launched a homicide investigation and suspect Carter was murdered and robbed – as his car is missing.
Investigators are searching for the vehicle – a silver 2003 Volkswagen Jetta with the California license plate 6PPG662 – hoping it will lead them to the suspects, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Mr Carter and his wife Lokita are credited as being ‘the most successful and consistent tantra teaching couple in the USA’.
They have released several DVDs on tantric massage, yoga for lovers and meditation.
They had recently sold their home and business, the Ecstatic Living Institute, in Lake County, and relocated to Costa Rica, where they built their dream house.
But the pair returned to California when Mrs Carter was diagnosed with breast cancer, according to SF Gate.
Mrs Carter has not commented on the murder of her husband.
However his brother, Michael Carter of Fresno, confirmed his sibling had been killed.
He told the newspaper: ‘I’ve heard that he was murdered, but I haven’t heard anything other than that.
‘I can’t imagine that it’s anything other than a random thing. All of it seems very random and unbelievable. Nothing makes any sense.’
Police said Steve Carter was shot multiple times. An autopsy is pending.
Steve and Lokita Carter founded the Ecstatic Living Institute in 1999.
According to their website, they taught more than 16,000 students.
The two have been vocal about their beliefs in monogamy and viewing themselves as ‘equals’.
‘They delight in sharing with each other and through their workshops what they have learned over many years of tantric practice, relationship exploration, ecstatic living and the tantric way of life as a married couple,’ the institute’s website notes.
‘When they joined together their love and variety of talents, they emerged as a powerful, fun, dynamic and loving teaching team.
‘Steve and Lokita accept and support everyone’s way of being together, or being single – in their workshops, and in their lives at large.’
Anyone with information about the murder is asked to call the investigations unit at 415-473-7265 or the Crime Stoppers anonymous tip line at 800-222-TIPS.
Crime Stoppers callers can be eligible for a cash reward for information leading to a conviction.