When an investigative reporter Jeff German was murdered in Las Vegas, there was an extraordinary twist. Police made the shock arrest of a sitting public official who had been accused of wrongdoing in reports written by the German.
The staff at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, where German worked, covered the massive story while mourning the loss of one of their colleagues.
“The Sheriff tells me, ‘Jeff is dead.’ And it’s just a punch in the face,” said executive editor Glenn Cook. “As upset as I am, I don’t even consider the possibility that he might have been murdered.”
But the newspaper’s investigative unit chief, Rhonda Prest, became nervous after homicide detectives were called to the German’s neighborhood for information.
The German’s body was discovered outside his home seven knives; four on the neck.
Cook told CBS News there was a list of people he believed could be connected to the German’s murder.
“It’s a line of people from here to Los Angeles,” Cook said. “It covered a ton of bad people who did a lot of bad things.”
For more than forty years, the German has destroyed gangsters and robbers, public corruption and exposed the shadowy grudges behind the neon of Sin City.
Prast said she had a feeling who might have been behind German’s murder — Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles.
The position is a bottom-of-the-ballot office that handles wills and estates, but German said Telles bullies his employees and even had an inappropriate relationship with one of them. Last May, Telles told the Las Vegas Review that he did not have an inappropriate relationship or mistreat workers. Telles later lost his primary bid for re-election.
Police released a video of the suspect wearing a wide-brimmed hat, orange clothing and gloves while walking in German’s neighborhood on the morning of his death.
Cook said people in the newsroom compared the way the suspect was walking to the video the paper had of Telles walking down the hall — and noticed a striking resemblance.
“It’s an ‘Oh my God’ moment for people in the newsroom,” Cook said.
The investigation heated up when police asked for the public’s help in finding a maroon GMC Yukon, the suspect’s car. A tipster shared a social media post with Review-Journal staff saying the Yukon could belong to Telles.
Journalists turned to an unlikely tool: Google Maps Searching for Tells’ home address. Parked on the street? A maroon GMC Yukon.
In their shock, reporters and photographers for the Review-Journal staked out Telles’ neighborhood.
“The whole situation had its own sense of the absurd,” media reporter James Schaefer said of his colleagues investigating the death of one of their own.
Police searched Telles’ home and said they found a mutilated hat and bloodstained sneakers. They also say DNA from the crime scene matched Telles.
“It’s a hell of a story,” Cook said. “An elected official is a person of interest in the murder of an investigative journalist in the United States. It’s unbelievable.”
Five days after the German’s murder, Telles was arrested. The headline on the front page of the Las Vegas Review-Journal read “A stunning arrest” in the “murder of a reporter.”
“We’re going to have a hole in our newsroom,” said crime reporter Sabrina Schnur. “I don’t think our city will ever understand how much he did. But our newsroom will.”
Teles was accused of murder. He has not yet filed an appeal in court.