Police say the elected official accused of murdering a Las Vegas investigative reporter was linked to the crime through DNA, as well as shoes and a straw hat that were allegedly altered in an attempt to destroy evidence.
In a press conference Thursday morning, Capt. Dori Koren of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said Robert Telles, 45, was upset about articles Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German had written “that exposed potential wrongdoing.”
“Telles had publicly expressed his issues with that reporting, and then ultimately Telles was also upset, from what we found out later, that there was additional reporting that was pending,” said Koren, calling German “a well-known investigative reporter.” Telles, a Democratic official, recently lost his re-election bid — and German chronicled that failed campaign extensively.
Koren said German, 69, was killed last Friday, Sept. 2, about 11:18 a.m. after someone wearing a bright orange reflector shirt — and a large straw hat — went to the side of the victim’s home while carrying a duffle bag. German went outside through his garage “and ultimately an altercation took place between the suspect and victim.” German’s body wasn’t found until the next day.
Koren said an early break came when detectives identified a suspicious red or maroon GMC Denali seen in German’s neighborhood the time of the murder. They then determined that the person seen walking toward German’s home had fled in that vehicle wearing an orange shirt and straw hat. Police released video and still images of the person both before and after the homicide.
“It is a casual walk even after the homicide,” Koren said. Police have “distorted” video of the attack and “are in the process of clarifying that video as we speak,” Sheriff Joe Lombardo said.
Detectives learned of a vehicle matching the GMC’s description parked outside Telles home, registered in his wife’s name. They also found video showing it had left the home about 9 a.m. the day of the killing, then returned about noon, “which matched our timeline.”
Authorities searched Telles’ home and vehicle Wednesday and collected a DNA sample from him.
Koren displayed a photo of a pair of Nike shoes detectives seized that had apparent blood on them and were cut “likely in a manner to try to destroy evidence.” He also showed a photo of a straw hat cut into five pieces that he said matches the hat worn by the suspected killer.
Koren said Telles had “self-inflicted wounds” when he was arrested about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, but they are not life threatening. He’s been booked into jail and is expected to appear in court today. He met with detectives before being allowed to leave on his own accord Wednesday afternoon, which Lombardo said was “dictated by the Constitution.” Video posted online about 2:20 p.m. showed Telles returning to his home and being questioned by reporters as he opened his garage door.
— Christian Cázares (@Cazaresreports) September 7, 2022
Telles took office as the elected public administrator of Clark County, Nevada, in January 2019, a position tasked with overseeing property for deceased people while a family or estate manager is found. He has been a licensed attorney with the Nevada State Bar since Jan. 9, 2015, after earning a law degree from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas School of Law in 2014. He opened his own probate and estate planning firm, Accolade Law, in February 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile. Prior to becoming a lawyer, he was a heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technician for the College of Southern Nevada.
Asked on Thursday to expand on Telles’ motive, Koren said he can’t “speculate on the motive beyond what was already discussed.”
“We know that Telles was very upset about German’s reporting already about his role as a public administrator and everything else that followed after that,” Koren said during the press conference, which was streamed live online.
Lombardo said the Review-Journal was “instrumental” in notifying police of who to contact in German’s family, as well as “cases he was working previously and currently that may lead to some leads associated with this case.”
Lombardo said the murder is “terrible and jarring and “has deeply impacted Las Vegas.”
“Every murder is tragic, but the killing of a journalist is particularly troublesome,” he said.
One reporter asked Lombardo about former President Donald Trump’s rhetoric against journalists, to which the sheriff replied, “I think this probably is an inappropriate venue to speculate or opine on that.”
But, Lombardo said, “It is troublesome because it is a journalist, and we expect journalism to be open and transparent and watchdog for government and when people take it upon themselves to create harm associated with that profession, I think it’s very important that we put all eyes on and address the case appropriately such as we did in this case with this expediency associated with it.”
[Images: screenshot from KSNV TV, surveillance video from Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department]
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