A Nevada newspaper journalist who was found stabbed to death at his home over the weekend was allegedly murdered by the subject of one of his investigative reports.
On Wednesday, police in Las Vegas said they apprehended former Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles in connection with the murder of Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German.
Police initially said German was stabbed following an altercation with an unknown person, and that there was no information to indicate the journalist was killed in connection with his work.
After releasing surveillance video and still images from a neighborhood camera, police received tips that led them to Telles. A search warrant was executed on his home early Wednesday morning, and evidence was discovered that strongly suggested the murder was due to German’s reporting.
Earlier this year, German wrote a series of stories for the Las Vegas Review-Journal that exposed a culture of workplace hostility and bullying at the Clark County Public Administrator’s Office. One story focused on a relationship Telles had with an office staffer that some said compromised his ability to oversee the estates of local residents who died without naming an heir.
As is typical in local government, the county administrator in that part of Nevada is an elected position. At the time the article was published, Telles was running for re-election; he lost the primary one month after the story ran in the newspaper and was slated to be removed from office early next year.
County workers who spoke with the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week affirmed Telles was still angry about the stories German published and considered them to be personally humiliating. Some told the newspaper they now feared for their own safety in the wake of the journalist’s murder.
“It’s like a realization that we’ve been in the office with someone who hates us and is capable of this kind of violent crime,” Aleisha Goodwin, a coordinator who worked in Telles’ old office, told the newspaper in an interview.
The public official’s disdain for the local newspaper reporter was not exactly a secret: At least once, Telles took to Twitter with an unsubstantiated claim that German was “doing double duty” as an activist while working for the media outlet. In another tweet, he accused German of “going through our trash for his fourth story on me” in a mock conversation with his wife.
“Typical bully,” Telles wrote on Twitter. ” Can’t take a pound of criticism after swinging 100 pounds of B.S. — up to article number four now. You’d think he’d have better things to do.”
In a statement on Wednesday, the executive editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal said the arrest of German’s alleged assailant was “an enormous relief and an outrage for the Review-Journal newsroom.”
“We are relieved Telles is in custody and outraged that a colleague appears to have been killed for reporting on an elected official,” the executive, Glenn Cook, said. “Journalists can’t do the important work our communities require if they are afraid a presentation of facts could lead to violent retribution.”
Cook thanked the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for their work and said the arrest of Telles would allow for German’s family, friends and colleagues to move forward with a period of mourning.