When Gregory Joseph Fleniken rented a room in Beaumont, Tx at the MCM Elegante hotel on September 16, 2010 he would have no idea that he would not be given the opportunity to check out. It would be another day for the Louisiana oilman, who would habitually stay in hotels while traveling for work, described by Beaumont Police detective Scott Apple as a man of habit known to have a sweet tooth, as well as being a heavy smoker. It would initially be believed that the cause of death for Fleniken would be a heart attack, in a ABC News “20/20” interview detective Apple would state “That’s what we had figured it must be at the scene”.
At the scene where Fleniken’s body would be discovered police would find Gregory Joseph Fleniken dead on the floor, his snacks and drink near his bed, the TV still on with no air conditioning, and more than $1000 dollars left in the room. According to hotel staff the only out of ordinary event that that was reported to the front desk would be a breaker going off in Fleniken’s room. After Fleniken’s body was sent to a medical examiner to confirm the original thought of Fleniken’s death, it would be discovered by medical examiner Dr. Tommy Brown that, Fleniken suffered from severe internal damage, having broken ribs, a laceration to the liver and small laceration to the scrotum that appeared as a small bruise, as well as a hole in his heart. Brown would rule Gregory Joseph Fleniken’s death a homicide.
Beaumont police investigation following Medical Examiner Brown’s ruling of a homicide would provide no apparent leads in Fleniken’s death, growing desperate for answers for her late husband’s death Fleniken’s widow Susie Fleniken would hire private investigator Ken Brennean to re-examine the case however it would go close to nine months before investigators would bring Gregory Fleniken’s killer to justice. Private investigator Ken Brennean working with detective Scott Apple would go over hotel security footage, and case notes ultimately discovering the killer to be, Lance Robert Mueller age 48. Mueller, a Wisconsin electrician who had been contracted to work at the local refinery, had been drinking in the room next to where Gregory Fleniken would be staying with some coworkers, as the night progressed Lance Mueller would start to show off his 9mm pistol unintentionally dispersing a round through the wall into the next room, with little care the three electricians would leave the room as if nothing happened, without bothering to check on the room next door for any occupants, continuing to drink in the hotel bar.
At the time when Gregory Fleniken’s body was discovered by his coworkers, detective Apple recalled his interaction with the three electricians upon his investigation. In a Beaumont Enterprise news article detective Apple would state, “in hindsight, a clue to the homicide presented itself the first day, but as it was during the time when investigators thought the death was natural, he overlooked it.” Describing the men as acting nervous the day detective Apple was waiting outside Fleniken’s hotel room waiting for his body to be picked up, when the men returned to their hotel room next door. Upon seeing the investigators at the scene an awkward pause would fill the hallway, to ease the awkward tension in the air detective apple would make small talk asking, “How’s it going?” to which one of them would reply “I was doing better till now” at the time detective Apple would dismiss the behavior of the men, still believing at the time that Fleniken’s death was the cause of an untimely natural death. He would go on to think that the men simply did not like talking to law enforcement. Not realizing that the men obviously knew something about what had occurred the night prior.
According to the Beaumont Enterprise the three men would become persons of interest in the case upon learning Fleniken’s true cause of death. At first the men would deny having any knowledge of what happened, while visiting with another investigator detective Apple, and investigator Ken Brennean would be given the suggestion to question the co-workers of the electricians that had been staying in the hotel that night. The suggestion would prove fruitful as one coworker would state that lance Robert Mueller would confide in him that he had fired a gun into the next room, and that the next day they carried a body out of the room.
Apple, and Brennean would return to the hotel room, where a small hole would be discovered next to the door that could have easily been dismissed as damaged caused by the door handle, however the hole would be a few inches off. After reviewing autopsy photos and comparing then to the location on the wall where the hole was, it would be agreed that the hole in Fleniken’s heart was indeed a bullet hole. Both Apple and Brennean would go to Wisconsin to speak with the electricians again, this time conducting their investigation with more pressure, one of the men would crack confirming that Lance Robert Mueller did discharge a handgun round into Fleniken’s room. Lance Robert Mueller wound plead no contest and be convicted of manslaughter following trial and be sentenced to ten years in prison.