An elected Democrat official has been arrested on suspicion of murdering an investigative journalist who reported negative information about him — and the mainstream media is oddly silent.
Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles (D) was arrested on suspicion of murder Wednesday evening following the fatal stabbing of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German, whose investigation of the Democrat politician contributed to his primary election loss in June.
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The development came a day after the LVPD asked for the public’s help in identifying a suspect in the homicide case. An early morning search of Telles’ home on Wednesday provided the first indication that the fatal stabbing could be related to German’s investigative work exposing Democrat corruption. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, German was also pursuing an explosive follow-up story about Telles in the weeks before he was killed.
Police arrived at Telles’ home on Spanish Steps Lane in the western valley around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday and blocked off nearby streets. Shortly before 9 a.m., police released a statement saying they were “currently serving search warrants” in connection with the homicide investigation.
They provided no further information until Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told the Review-Journal at around 6:30 p.m. that Telles had been arrested. Shortly before that, a Review-Journal photographer captured an image of Telles on a stretcher as he was loaded into an ambulance. Las Vegas Review-Journal reports:
“The arrest of Robert Telles is at once an enormous relief and an outrage for the Review-Journal newsroom,” Executive Editor Glenn Cook said. “We are relieved Telles is in custody and outraged that a colleague appears to have been killed for reporting on an elected official. Journalists can’t do the important work our communities require if they are afraid a presentation of facts could lead to violent retribution. We thank Las Vegas police for their urgency and hard work and for immediately recognizing the terrible significance of Jeff’s killing. Now, hopefully, the Review-Journal, the German family and Jeff’s many friends can begin the process of mourning and honoring a great man and a brave reporter.”
The breakthrough in the case came after police released an image of a vehicle tied to the homicide suspect: a red or maroon GMC Yukon Denali.
Police released the image during a news conference Tuesday afternoon. Later that evening, Review-Journal reporters observed Telles in the driveway of his home, standing next to a vehicle matching that description.
Home searched, vehicles towed
Detectives interviewed Telles while the search of his home was being conducted the following morning, according to authorities. The residence is less than 6 miles from the home where German was found dead on Saturday.
The GMC vehicle and a second vehicle were towed from Telles’ property at about 12:50 p.m. on Wednesday.
Attempts to reach Telles for comment on Wednesday were not successful. When he arrived home at about 2:20 p.m., he was wearing what appeared to be a white hazmat suit. He did not respond to reporters’ questions as he entered his garage and closed the door.
Later, police arrived in tactical gear and surrounded the home while Telles remained inside. The area was again cordoned off with yellow tape.
Police used the area in front of Piggott Elementary School on Red Hills Road at Silk Tassel Drive as a command post as police mobile units, fire engines and medical personnel arrived at the scene.
At around 5:45 p.m. an officer walked a young boy and girl, both wearing backpacks, across the street and beyond the crime scene tape to a waiting parent. Other people walked past the tape and asked the stationed officer if they could walk to the school to pick up their children.
Red Hills remained closed before Silk Tassel as of 7:50 p.m.
After Telles was arrested, police announced that Lombardo and Capt. Dori Koren would provide an update on the investigation Thursday morning. Las Vegas Justice Court records show that Telles has an initial appearance scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
Reporter had requested more records
German spent months reporting on the turmoil surrounding Telles’ oversight of the public administrator’s office.
The 45-year-old Democrat lost his re-election bid in the primary after German’s findings were published. German also had recently filed public records requests for emails and text messages between Telles and three other county officials: Assistant Public Administrator Rita Reid, estate coordinator Roberta Lee-Kennett and consultant Michael Murphy. Lee-Kennett was identified in previous stories as a subordinate staffer allegedly involved in an “inappropriate relationship” with Telles.
German, 69, was found dead on Saturday morning outside his northwest Las Vegas home, the Metropolitan Police Department reported. Police said they believe he was fatally stabbed during an altercation the previous morning.
Private services were held for German on Wednesday.
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