A Las Vegas public official accused of murdering a local journalist had tried to disguise himself in a yellow vest and wide-brimmed straw hat before confronting the victim at his home, and later cut up his clothes in an attempt to destroy the evidence, police said on Thursday.
Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, 45, was arrested Wednesday evening in connection to the stabbing death of veteran investigative journalist Jeff German, 69.
He is currently being held at the Clark County Detention Center on an open murder charge, Sheriff Joe Lombardo said.
In a press conference on Thursday, police said Telles was seen near German’s home on the morning of the murder wearing an orange hi-visibility vest and large straw hat in an apparent attempt to disguise himself.
Authorities later recovered Telles’s DNA at the scene as well as destroyed pieces of clothing, including a bloody sneaker and a straw hat matching those worn by the suspect in surveillance footage.
The hat and sneaker was ‘cut in a manner that was likely to destroy evidence,’ Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Captain Dori Koren said.
The murder weapon has not been found.
Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, 45, (left) was booked into Clark County Detention Center on an open murder charge Wednesday in connection to the stabbing death of veteran investigative journalist Jeff German, 69
Telles was seen near German’s home on the morning of his death wearing an orange hi-visibility vest and large straw hat in an apparent attempt to disguise himself, police said
A cut-up sneaker with a ‘blood smear’ was recovered at the scene
Police also found a straw hat matching Telles’s that was ‘cut in a manner that was likely to destroy evidence’
German was stabbed multiple times outside his house late Friday morning, but authorities did not learn of the attack until the following day, police said.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter was well known in the city for his decades of reporting on political corruption and crime.
Telles, a Democrat, lost his bid for reelection in June following a series of stories written by German that exposed the turmoil in his office and claimed he had an affair with an employee.
‘Telles was upset about articles that were being written by German as an investigative journalist that exposed potential wrongdoing, and Telles had publicly expressed his issues with the reporting,’ Koren said at Thursday’s news conference.
The detective said Telles was ‘also upset’ after learning there was additional reporting ‘pending.’
A photo released by police showed Telles dressed in an orange shirt with reflective stripes and straw hat while approaching the side of German’s home around 11am Friday.
‘Shortly after, German came outside of the garage and went to the side of the house where an altercation took place between the suspect and the victim,’ Koren said.
‘At that time, the victim was stabbed multiple times.’
Police officers dressed in tactical gear descended on Telles’s home Wednesday, moments before he was wheeled out of the home on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance
Telles (pictured left with his wife) failed to get reelected in June after German wrote a series of stories exposing his alleged ‘inappropriate relationship’ with a member of his staff
Late journalist German claimed Roberta Lee-Kennett, 45, (pictured with her husband) was having an affair with Telles. She was seen in a video leaving the car at the same time as the official, hoisting her skirt down
Telles is understood to have returned to his property around 2pm and was, according to local news station 8 News Now, dressed in a hazmat suit
A vehicle matching the description of Telles’s maroon GMC Denali was seen parked in front of German’s home on the morning of the murder which police later determined was the same car the suspect used to flee the scene.
‘This has been an unusual case from the beginning,’ Sheriff Lombardo said at the news conference.
‘It is troublesome because it is journalist and we expect journalism to be open and transparent and a watchdog for government.’
On Wednesday, Telles declined to speak to reporters outside his home following the police interview and search of his property. He was wearing what appeared to be a hazmat suit and sandals.
By 6pm, police returned to Telles’s home in tactical gear and were surrounding the home while he remained inside.
He was later arrested and taken out of his house on a stretcher. He had self-inflicted wounds that were not life threatening, Koren said.
Earlier on Thursday, DailyMail.com revealed Telles had been railing against German for months – including in an angry series of messages on social media in which he accused him of rifling through his trash and writing ‘lying smear pieces’ about him.
He also had a section on his campaign website called ‘Truth’ which referred to German by name and accused him of conspiring with Rita Reid – his challenger in the Democratic primary for the post of Clark County Public Administrator – to create false stories about him.
Reid, who won the June 16 election, was among those who complained to German of Telles’s behavior at work – and about his alleged affair with staffer Roberta Lee-Kennett, 45.
Colleagues of German, from the Review Journal, snapped pictures of Telles washing a car similar to one that cops said they were hunting as part of the probe into the reporters death the day before they raided his home
Telles, pictured cleaning a different car, has had his home searched by officers investigating the murder of the reporter
Telles’s home was searched by Las Vegas police hours before he was taken into custody
By 6pm on Wednesday, police had returned to Telles’s home in tactical gear and were surrounding the home while Telles remained inside
Las Vegas police officers arrived at the scene wearing tactical gear
He also accused the pair of conspiring with John Cahill – his predecessor in the role – and claimed the trio were attempting to ‘drag me through the mud’ for their own gain.
A particularly damaging story published by German included a video of Telles – who is married – exiting a vehicle with his lover.
Lee-Kennett left the backseat of the car at the same time as the official, and can be seen hoisting her skirt down.
The clip was published by the late investigative reporter in May.
In an angry post on June 19 – three days after he lost the primary – Telles wrote: ‘If Rita does not win, then her position will not be vacated.
‘Then, the employee who wanted her position will not get it. This person wanted to work in that position for three years to obtain a much higher monthly payment in retirement.
‘For that reason, Jeff German and John Cahill may not be done trying to drag me through the mud.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers found local journalist Jeff German (left) dead with stab wounds around 10:30am Saturday after authorities received a 911 call. Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles (right) has now been arrested in connection to his death
Las Vegas police were seen outside the home of Telles five days after the investigative reporter was killed outside his home
An ambulance is seen on Wednesday evening leaving Telles’s home
‘To ensure that Democrats rally around Rita, they would have to turn most Democratic voters against me even now when I should be irrelevant. Don’t be surprised if the articles keep coming.
‘Through all of these articles, I have had the support of my family and friends.
‘Despite what Jeff German and John Cahill have tried to do to me personally, I have been backed up by love and support that helped me to keep fighting for re-election. While I have lost, I still yet have that love and support.’
Telles had also embarked on a Twitter tirade the day before – accusing German of looking through his trash, making a ‘veiled threat’ against him and of bullying.
One post read: ‘Looking forward to lying smear piece #4 by @JGermanRJ #onetrickpony. I think he’s mad I haven’t crawled into a hole and died.’
A second added: ‘Typical bully. Can’t take a pound of criticism after slinging 100 pounds of BS. Up to article #4 now. You’d think he’d have better things to do.’
Telles also said he expected to be linked to the Mob and Yakuza [street gang] after leaving pizza and sushi boxes in the trash, before adding sarcastically: ‘*Wife hears rustling in the trash* Her: ‘Honey, is there a wild animal in the trash?’ Me: ‘No, dear. Looks like it’s @JGermanRJ going through our trash for his 4th story on me.’ Oh, Jeff…’
Telles shares a $660,000 four-bedroom home with his wife Mae Ishmael, 45, and their three young children in the upscale Peccole Ranch area of Las Vegas.
Jeff German, a reported with Las Vegas Review Journal, was found stabbed to death on Saturday. German, a crime reporter, was the author of the 2001 true-crime book ‘Murder in Sin City: The Death of a Las Vegas Casino Boss,’ the story of the death of Ted Binion, heir to the Horseshoe Club fortune
Telles accused the reporter of writing several ‘smear’ pieces against him after losing a re-election bid in June
The house was raided by cops early on Wednesday morning.
Police had already released footage of a maroon 2007 to 2013 GMC Yukon Denali which they said was linked to the case.
A similar vehicle, which appears in the street map view of Telles’s home, was removed from the property by police, along with a gray BMW sedan.
Telles is understood to have returned to the property around 2pm and was, according to local news outlets, dressed in a hazmat suit.
Following the arrest, Executive Editor Glenn Cook said: ‘The arrest of Robert Telles is at once 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. Journalists can’t do the important work our communities require if they are afraid a presentation of facts could lead to violent retribution.’