Las Vegas Sheriff Lombardo Says DNA Evidence Ties Democrat Official to Murder of Investigative Journalist

Left, Robert Telles, charged with the murder of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German (LVMPD); Right, Sheriff Joe Lombardo.

On Thursday, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) held a press conference at their headquarters formally announcing the arrest of Democrat Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles for the murder of investigative journalist Jeff German.

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Sheriff Joe Lombardo, also the Republican nominee for Nevada Governor, began the press conference by offering condolences to German’s family and friends, and to his co-workers at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Lombardo thanked the local community for their help in solving the case. On Saturday, following the discovery of German’s body, Sheriff Lombardo enacted major case protocol to bring together resources to maximize the investigative effort and ensure timely and clear communication during the high-profile case.

Sheriff Lombardo said the case was unusual from the beginning:

“This has been an unusual case from the beginning, the murder of an investigative journalist and the main suspect an elected official here in Clark County. Because of the relentless follow-up of our detectives with your help, I’m here to announce the arrest of 45-year-old Robert Telles. He was booked in the Clark County Detention Center last night on the charge of open murder.”

During Sheriff Lombardo’s announcement of the arrest, a booking photo of Telles appeared on a screen.

Sheriff Lombardo pointed out the significance of the case, saying:

“This is a terrible and jarring homicide, one that has deeply impacted Las Vegas. Every murder is tragic, but the killing of a journalist is particularly troublesome. I hope the arrest of Telles and subsequent prosecution will ultimately provide a sense of justice for our community and Mr. German’s family.”

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Sheriff Lombardo said the case is still ongoing, with detectives continuing to review the information and follow up on leads.

Captain of the Homicide Bureau Dori Koren provided the timeline of the case during the press conference. Koren says the suspect was attempting to disguise himself, approached German’s home, and went to the side of the house. German went through his garage door and went to the side of his home where an altercation took place around 11:18 am on Friday, September 2, 2022. German was stabbed multiple times.

Cpt. Koren credits Sheriff Lombardo for enacting immediate major case protocol, allowing detectives to have the resources to address the volume of tips coming in from the public. Koren says that a critical lead came in identifying the maroon GMC Yukon Denali at the scene of the crime, and another lead connected the vehicle to the suspect seen in disguise at the scene.

Telles was identified early in the investigation as a person of interest due to him being upset and publicly expressing his issues with German’s reporting about him, exposing public wrongdoing. Law enforcement discovered later that Telles was also upset that German had planned additional reporting on him.

Detectives uncovered video evidence that the vehicle matching the crime scene description, which is registered to Telles’ wife and was parked in front of Telles’ home, had departed around 9 a.m. on the day of the murder and returned around 12 p.m., which matches the timeline. Law enforcement secured warrants to search Telles’ home and vehicles and to collect DNA to compare to samples found at the crime scene.

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On Wednesday afternoon Telles was released after being interviewed while LVMPD waited on DNA testing results and as they continued to collect and review evidence to build the case. Detectives received additional information indicating that Telles was the driver of the GMC Denali on the morning of the murder. During the search of Telles’ property, shoes with what appeared to be blood on them were recovered that matched the description of the suspect’s clothing. Officers also found a straw hat matching the one worn during the crime. The shoes and hat had been cut up, likely in an attempt to destroy evidence. The murder weapon has not been recovered at this time.

Law enforcement then received DNA results showing that Robert Telles’ DNA matched the DNA found at the crime scene. At that time LVMPD immediately initiated their arrest operation, with the goal of getting Telles into custody as safely as possible. Koren thanked the Homicide unit, saying:

“We are very fortunate in Las Vegas. We have the best homicide unit in the country with the highest solvability rate in the country. They worked tirelessly, as the Sheriff pointed out, to succeed in this case.”

Koren also thanked supporting units in the labs, tactical teams, the media for helping get the information out, and the general public for providing tips and leads.

“We’re only five days into this case so there is still a lot of effort, as the Sheriff pointed out, that needs to be conducted, and there will be more facts as we continue to make progress on this case. But, we do believe this is an important case and that’s why everyone involved from the very top of our agency as the Sheriff to the lower parts working every single lead took this case very seriously, because they know the impact it has on our community and our country as a whole.”

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Koren then took questions from the press, where he revealed Telles had self-inflicted wounds that were not life-threatening when he was taken into custody and he was put on a stretcher to receive medical care.

The press asked questions as to why Telles was released on Wednesday ahead of his arrest. Koren answered that Telles being released by law enforcement just hours prior to his arrest was motivated by the goal of having a solid prosecution in the case and was done in consultation with the District Attorney’s Office. A member of the media pressed for answers regarding if the protocol for releasing a murder suspect would be reviewed, based on the neighborhood being evacuated and potential dangers that could have occurred while trying to apprehend Telles. Koren responded:

“There is a reason why people from all over the United States come to Las Vegas to apply with our agency to become police officers and detectives and swat officers… and it’s because we have a very professional and effective way of how we safely take people into custody in these types of very dynamic situations and that was proven yesterday. And then the second reason is we have a community that is very supportive, so I understand some people might be frustrated with the disruption, but the way the operation worked the community was supportive of how we did it and they were certainly supportive of the outcome because everyone is safe today.”

A member of the media then directed a political question to Sheriff Lombardo, asking:

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“Sheriff, you said the murder of a journalist was especially troubling, and now is probably not the appropriate time to talk politics, but do you condemn” —

Sheriff Lombardo answered:

“So why are we talking politics, then?”

The member of the press continued her question, asking:

“Do you condemn former President Trump’s normalization of violence against journalists?”

Sheriff Lombardo, who is endorsed by former President Trump in the Governor’s race, responded:

“I think this property (LVMPD headquarters) is the inappropriate venue to speculate on that or opine on that. I think it needs to be stated and noted that is troublesome because it is a journalist and we expect journalism to be open and transparent and a watchdog for government. And, when people take it upon themselves to create harm associated with that profession, I think it’s important that we put all eyes on and address the case appropriately, such as we did in this case, with the expediency associated with it.”

 

AP/Reuters Feed LibraryPresident Donald Trump shakes hands after speaking with first responders and private citizens that helped during the mass shooting, during a “Hero’s Meet and Greet” at the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Sheriff Lombardo also clarified the circumstance where Telles returned to his house saying that it was dictated by the Constitution and Nevada state law, citing that they need enough evidence to rise to the legal standard of probable cause to effect an arrest.

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Sheriff Lombardo commended the efforts of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, calling them instrumental in the case. Sheriff Lombardo said law enforcement has distorted video of the attack that they are in the process of clarifying. Telles is to be arraigned in court at 1:30 pm Thursday. There are no clear answers yet as to if Telles is still holding public office as Clark County Administrator.

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