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Local official arrested in slaying of Las Vegas investigative reporter Jeff German

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Arrest made in slaying of Las Vegas reporter
Local official arrested in slaying of Las Vegas investigative reporter 02:53

A Las Vegas-area elected public official was ordered to be held without bail after he was arrested for the fatal stabbing of a veteran newspaper reporter whose investigations of the official's work preceded his primary loss in June.

Clark County Public Administrator Robert "Rob" Telles, a Democrat, was taken into custody at his home by police SWAT officers hours after investigators served a search warrant and confiscated vehicles in the criminal probe of the killing of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German, Sheriff Joe Lombardo told the newspaper.

The 45-year-old Telles, who faces a charge of open murder with a deadly weapon, appeared in front of a Las Vegas judge for the first time following his arrest. Prosecutors said he barricaded himself in his home during a stand-off with police and was found with cuts on his arms. 

Prosecutors said German was found stabbed seven times outside his home and DNA from German's hands matched Telles'. Wounds on German's arms and hands indicate that he likely fought for his life, prosecutors said. 

Prosecutors added that Telles cased the neighborhood before the attack. 

Telles' next court appearance is set for September 13. 

Acknowledging that the investigation is ongoing and still in its early stages, authorities said at a news conference earlier Thursday that Telles' DNA was found at the site of the stabbing.

Authorities said surveillance footage showed a suspect wearing an orange jacket, straw hat and sneakers walking near German's home around the time they believe the stabbing took place on Sept. 2. When Las Vegas police confiscated evidence from Telles' residence on a search warrant during his Wednesday arrest, they found a straw hat and sneaker that matched those worn by the suspect on video, according to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Captain Dori Koren. The hat had been cut into pieces, Koren said, and the shoe was partially cut and appeared to be stained with blood in what police believe was an effort to destroy evidence.

"This a terrible and jarring homicide," Lombardo said during the news conference. "One that has deeply impacted Las Vegas. Every murder is tragic, but the killing of a journalist is particularly troublesome."

Las Vegas police did not speak in detail about a suspected motive for the stabbing on Thursday, although Koren said the ongoing investigation has shown that Telles was "very upset" over German's published coverage of him and additional reporting that the journalist was pursuing at the time of his death.

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Jeff German, host of Mobbed Up, with Planet Hollywood (formerly the Aladdin) on the Strip in Las Vegas in June  2021. K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal / Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Telles had been a focus of German's reporting about turmoil including complaints of administrative bullying, favoritism and Telles' relationship with a subordinate staffer in the county office that handles the property of people who die without a will or family contacts.

The newspaper's executive editor, Glenn Cook, said in a statement that "the arrest of Robert Telles is at once an enormous relief and an outrage for the Review-Journal newsroom.

"We are relieved Robert 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. We thank Las Vegas police for their urgency and hard work and for immediately recognizing the terrible significance of Jeff's killing," Cook said.

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Clark County (Nevada) Public Administrator Robert Telles CBS News

Telles didn't immediately respond Wednesday to telephone messages at his county office, and it wasn't immediately clear following his arrest if he had an attorney who could speak on his behalf. The county administrator office was closed.

German joined the Review-Journal in 2010 after more than two decades at the Las Vegas Sun, where he was a columnist and reporter who covered courts, politics, labor, government and organized crime.

He was known for stories about government malfeasance and political scandals and coverage of the 2017 mass shooting at a Las Vegas music festival that killed 60 people and wounded more than 400 others.   

Telles, a lawyer who practiced probate and estate law, won his elected position in 2018, replacing a three-term public administrator. He lost his June party primary to Assistant Public Administrator Rita Reid. Telles' term expires Dec. 31.

In the weeks before the election, German bylined reports about an office "mired in turmoil and internal dissension" between longtime employees and new hires under Telles' leadership.

Telles blamed "old-timers" for exaggerating the extent of his relationship with a female staffer and falsely claiming that he mistreated them.

"All my new employees are super-happy and everyone's productive and doing well," he told the newspaper. "We've almost doubled the productivity in the office."

Telles later posted Twitter complaints about German, the Review-Journal reported, including claims in June that German was a bully who was "obsessed" with him.

German, a reporter with a reputation for tenacity, was working on follow-up reports, the newspaper said Wednesday, and recently filed public records requests for emails and text messages between Telles and three other county officials including Reid and consultant Michael Murphy.

Murphy, the former Clark County coroner hired to address complaints about leadership in the public administrators' office, didn't immediately respond to a telephone message.

German's body was found Saturday morning outside his home. Police said he apparently was killed Friday and characterized the attack as an isolated incident. The Clark County coroner ruled that German died of "multiple sharp force injuries" and ruled the case a homicide.

After police asked for public help Monday to identify a suspect, developments came quickly.

Police on Tuesday showed a brief video of a possible suspect walking on a sidewalk clad in bright orange "construction attire" and distributed a photo of a distinctive red or maroon GMC Yukon Denali SUV with chrome handles, a sunroof and a luggage rack, saying it may have been linked to the case.

Telles was seen in newspaper photos washing a similar vehicle parked in his driveway on Tuesday, and KTNV-TV reported the vehicle was towed away after police arrived on Wednesday.

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