On Tuesday, the public learned that a convicted pipe bombing murderer had escaped Nevada’s High Desert Prison on Friday evening. Previously, I detailed how the Nevada Department of Corrections, under Governor Steve Sisolak (D) and his appointee for NDOC Director Charles Daniels, had been an ongoing disaster culminating in the serious risk of an inmate on the run for days before anyone was alerted.
Porfirio Duarte-Herrera is an illegal immigrant from Nicaragua. He was convicted of the 2007 bombing in the Luxor Hotel parking lot that killed Willebaldo Dorantes Antonio and was sentenced to life without parole. He was also tried and convicted for a Halloween 2006 bombing outside of an eastern Las Vegas Home Depot where there were no injuries.
On Wednesday night, it was reported that Duarte-Herrara had been captured east of downtown Las Vegas near a shuttle service. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department had been actively searching for the man along with the U.S. Marshals. A $5,000 reward was initially offered by the U.S. Marshals for information leading to Duarte-Herrara’s capture, which was increased to $30,000 in the hours before his arrest.
#BREAKING: Federal authorities are now offering a combined $30,000 reward for information leading to the capture of Nevada Department of Corrections escapee Porfirio Duarte-Herrera. Here are some additional photos. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/G35KEbAiKm
— LVMPD (@LVMPD) September 29, 2022
LVMPD captured Duarte-Herrara around 10 p.m. near Owens and Eastern Avenues after fielding a tip of a person matching the description law enforcement had given that included his last known clothing along with updated photos.
This is where the prison escapee was taken into custody 👇
Zoom in and you can see there is shuttle service with the following locations listed:
— Vanessa_Murphy (@Vanessa_Murphy) September 29, 2022
— Ryan Matthey (@RyanMattheyNews) September 29, 2022
Method of Escape
8 News Now journalists confirmed that the shuttle location had a bus scheduled to leave for Tijuana, Mexico at 9:59 p.m. LVMPD had gotten the tip that Duarte-Herrera was at the location at 9:30 p.m. and he was captured by 10 p.m. They also reported on the tactics that Duarte-Herrera used to escape:
Duarte-Herrera used acid to help erode the area securing his cell window so he could climb out sometime Friday evening, sources said. He also created a cardboard dummy to leave in his cell, the 8 News Now Investigators first reported Tuesday.
So far, NDOC has not confirmed or commented on these reports.
— Matthew Foldi (@MatthewFoldi) September 28, 2022
On Wednesday afternoon, a “suspicious item” was found in downtown Las Vegas in an area near several government and court buildings. LVMPD reported that the item had been “rendered safe” and reopened traffic in the area. It is not known at this time if the item was an explosive device or if Duarte-Herrera is tied to this incident.
There was a suspicious item left in the area of Las Vegas government buildings police say, but they now say the item and the area have been rendered safehttps://t.co/hVSC2NnGk7
— Las Vegas Sun (@LasVegasSun) September 29, 2022
This author notes the “suspicious item” was found approximately three miles from where Duarte-Herrera was captured. The 2006 bombing in the Home Depot parking lot near Lamb Blvd and the location of fugitive capture occurred in eastern Las Vegas. While more information will be forthcoming from authorities, from the time of the discovery of the suspicious item, and at the time of writing, I believe this to be Duarte-Herrera’s modus operandi as well as being geographically close to other sites associated with the pipe bomber.
1) Duarte-Herrera wasn’t just convicted of one bombing, but also another that took place on Halloween, several months prior to Luxor murder.
2) the locations of these 3 incidents aren’t in the same neighborhoods exactly, but I would say the same quadrant of Vegas.
Looks like MO
— BrutalBrittany💕 (@BrutalBrittany2) September 28, 2022
For Nevadans, this scary situation comes on the heels of Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles being arrested for the murder of local investigative Journalist Jeff German. As previously reported Telles had been appointed by Sisolak to a state board. I criticized Sisolak’s approach and leadership once the information that a sitting Democrat he had appointed was the suspect and swiftly implicated by DNA evidence as the assailant. I also noted that Sisolak would not acknowledge or commend the work of LVMPD for solving this case so quickly because it’s simply not good optics for his re-election campaign.
LVMPD, led by Sheriff Joe Lombardo, who is also the Republican nominee in the Governor’s race, solved German’s murder about two days after the discovery of German’s body. This is about the same amount of time it took Sisolak to remove Telles as his appointee from the state board. Telles is still a sitting public official but the county is asking a judge to intervene.
For the second time this month, Sheriff Lombardo’s police department has cleaned up a murderer mess caused by one of Sisolak’s appointees. As previously reported in a piece titled, Prison Escape of Pipe-Bomb Murderer Is Governor Sisolak’s Fault, the Governor is responsible for NDOC, which is run by his 2019 appointee Director Daniels. Sisolak is also a member of the three-person Board of Prisons Commissioners. The state prisons, the leadership of NDOC, and the oversight of their regulations and policies are directly in Sisolak’s purview and public duty.
— Matthew Foldi (@MatthewFoldi) September 28, 2022
Sisolak has called for an investigation to declare who to hold accountable for the escaped pipe bomber, and called the event “unacceptable.” From his official account, he shared notification about the initial $5,000 reward on Wednesday but never updated the public when the reward increased six-fold. Sisolak’s tweet mentions “the state” twice, as to tell the public what agencies under his control are contributing to the situation. The political posturing of Sisolak is par for the course and Nevadans notice. Commenters called out Sisolak for responding “72 hours late” and only doing so due to pressures of growing bad press or political ramifications.
You're about 72 hours late with this tweet, I guess the growing bad press nationwide about this finally got your attention, which undoubtedly is the ONLY reason you've finally said something.
— Robert Laidlaw (@vegasballer1) September 29, 2022
Sisolak must have known that a suspicious item had been found near several of our court houses and that LVMPD handled the situation expertly, keeping the public safe. Sisolak’s “The state is helping, too” tweet was a mitigation attempt for an incoming PR disaster because there was a bomber on the loose that he is responsible for in his public duties and a potential bombing attempt on our government buildings.
Sisolak might have even guessed that if this item LVMPD had “rendered safe” was the work of the NDOC escapee, that means he was still in the area even though he had a four-day head-start before he was reported missing. If he was indeed still in the county, LVMPD had good odds of being the heroes of the story, again, again, and again.
So, either some murderer that went missing on Sisolak’s watch bombs the community — a worst-case scenario for everyone — or his political opponent and the current Sheriff, Joe Lombardo, saves the day. Undoubtedly, Sisolak mitigated political backlash by finally posting something and making sure it elevated the actions of state departments under his direction.
This way if it goes badly: The state did everything they could to assist and we will hold whoever (not ourselves) responsible for his escape.
And, if there is a successful capture: The state was actively involved — we did it!
This is the mitigation tactic and political posturing of Sisolak’s belated tweet. But the state didn’t solve anything. Local reporter Vanessa Murphy told the public how the prisoner escaped from her sources, while NDOC had no comment. The state police didn’t seemingly disarm any explosives, or issue any information to the public at all. Actually, the Southern Nevada command for State Police and Highway Patrol only posted a retweet when LVMPD announced that they captured Duarte-Herrara.
For the record, it appears Duarte-Herrera was captured less than a half-hour ahead of him departing Las Vegas for Mexico, this after the negligence of Sisolak and his appointee Director Daniels of NDOC had given him a four-day head-start. There were mere minutes between LVMPD’s capture of the fugitive and the alternative, him fleeing country. LVMPD’s work is extremely impressive. Sisolak will not likely note that, as he also failed to do in the Telles murder arrest.
Much like the Telles case, the local news media has taken an active role in getting information out to the public, (even if Sisolak’s state police forgot to) and helping solve or answer questions in the case. Las Vegas Review-Journal colleagues of Jeff German photographed Telles cleaning a vehicle that matched the description of the one at the crime scene before his arrest. Here, 8 News Now’s team has kept their finger on the pulse and told the public how Duarte-Herrera escaped and where he was probably going ahead of any other source.
For our community, I am very proud police remedied this threat to public safety, that no officers or civilians were harmed, and that the local journalists are proving to be tough as nails while overcoming the unsettling and intimidating crime committed by a public official against one of their own.
I hope Nevada voters know who has their back when it comes time to cast their ballots: Those who have the backs of local journalists, who have the backs of local law enforcement officers, and who have been tirelessly working to keep the community safe during the jarring failures of our current Governor and his ill-fated appointees.