The downfall of Mike Yuchnitz; South Texas Crime Stories

The murder for hire trial never made it to the courtroom.

The Downfall of Mike Yuchnitz (Copyright 2022 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

It’s an entrepreneurial story turned true crime.

Mike Yuchnitz, a 20-year veteran of the Air Force, opened his first My Econo’s $39.95 Optical chain in the early 1990′s.

His vision grew to four locations, his commercials were a household favorite across the city.

Yuchnitz’s ambitions didn’t stop at affordable eyewear, he also promoted his tattoo parlor Platinum Tattoo.

It was a family business with his son, Noah, involved.

Murder-for-hire

Come October 2010, Yuchnitz wouldn’t just be known as a flamboyant eyewear salesman, he would be known for allegedly hiring someone to kill his wife, Tina.

According to an affidavit, Yuchnitz wanted a would-be hitman to shoot and kill his wife.

In a phone call between then-57-year-old Yuchnitz and the informant, Yuchnitz wanted the man to make Tina’s death look like a robbery, according to the affidvait.

Yuchnitz allegedly suggested the best time to kill his wife would be when she traveled to a card game.

The total cost of the murder would be $10,000.

Yuchnitz paid the informant half as a down payment but the would-be hitman went to the police instead.

They arrested Yuchnitz days later.

He was taken to the Bexar County Jail on a charge of conspiracy to commit capital murder.

Tina, the alleged intended target, filed for divorce.

Solicitation of capital murder charge precedes divorce

Just a year later, in November 2011, Yuchnitz was arrested all over again after a warrant was issued in connection to a solicitation of capital murder charge.

This arrest came the day after he was arrested for reckless driving.

Mike Yuchnitz

In 2012, the couple’s divorce trial came to a head in front of a jury.

Yuchnitz said his wife Tina was unhappy about his son’s marriage and that she was physically abusive towards him.

Tina said she had stress-related health problems since the day of her husband’s arrest, explaining she couldn’t sleep and had hired private security because she was so scared.

The jury deliberated for 12 hours and finally decided the couple must split their nearly $7 million estate equally.

Tina walked away with the My Econo business and Mike had ownership of the Platinum Tattoo shop.

The jury ruled that the couple each inflicted emotional distress upon each other. Tina was awarded $500,000 while Mike was awarded $100,000.

At the time, Mike’s lawyer, Miguel Ortiz, said the ruling by the jury was fair.

“They did not come here to convict him on a criminal charge that has not been proven yet. I think they did the right thing,” Ortiz said.

Tina agreed at the time, that same article quoted her saying “my heart is broken. I’m so glad it’s done.”

San Antonio was still waiting on the trial to start for the murder-for-hire plot, but it would never come.

Trial never started

Mike Yuchnitz was found dead on September 14, 2013, in the parking lot of the Intown suites on Bandera Rd.

The Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that Yuchnitz’s cause of death was natural and likely caused by heart problems related to lung cancer.

The murder-for-hire trial was scheduled for 2014 but it would never come.

In 2013, Yuchnitz’s lawyer David Christian told KSAT that “[Yuchnitz] looked forward to his day in court. He was extremely embarrassed and humbled with what he was charged with and he looked forward to presenting his side of the facts.”

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About the Authors:

Erica Hernandez is an Emmy award-winning journalist with15 years of experience in the broadcast news business. Erica has covered a wide array of stories all over Central and South Texas. She's currently the court reporter and cohost of the podcast South Texas Crime Stories.

Leigh Waldman is a news reporter at KSAT 12. She joined the station in 2021. Leigh comes to San Antonio from the Midwest after spending time at a station in Omaha, NE. After two winters there, she knew it was time to come home to Texas. When Leigh is not at work, she enjoys eating, playing with her dogs and spending time with family.