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Murder charges expected against suspect in killings

(KOLO)
Published: Jan. 20, 2019 at 1:50 PM PST
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A man apparently in the United States illegally is the primary suspect in four Northern Nevada murders, and no one else is being sought.

January 20, 2019, Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam hosted a multi-agency news conference to announce the arrest of 19-year-old Wilber Ernesto Martinez-Guzman. Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong says the suspect had lived in the Carson City area about a year, but has no local record.

The suspect is so far charged with burglary, possession of stolen property and obtaining money by false pretenses, and he is on an immigration hold. District Attorneys from Washoe County and Douglas County hope to file murder charges against him in the coming days, saying there is enough evidence to support such charges.

The suspect was taken into custody Saturday, January 19, 2019 in Carson City. Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong says he was arrested on an immigration charge after being rammed by deputies on Carson Street in the Carson Mall parking lot. The suspect had already been identified as a person of interest through the investigation and tips from the public, and had been under surveillance. That operation involved several Carson City neighborhoods.

No information about a possible motive for the killings has been offered.

January 9 or 10, 2019. 56-year-old Connie Koontz was found shot to death at her home in the Gardnerville Ranchos. She was found dead by her mother, who also lives in the home and is hard of hearing and disabled.

January 13, 74-year-old Sophia Renken was found dead in her home about a mile away, also shot to death.

January 16, the bodies of 81-year-old

, were found dead in their home on La Guardia Lane in south Reno, near Zolezzi. They also had been shot to death.

Sheriff's spokesman Bob Harmon says a neighbor had noticed something didn't seem to look right on the property, and called someone familiar with the family. That person looked around and determined there was reason to call deputies, who found the bodies inside the home.

January 18, acting on tips, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue crews searched the southern part of the 580 corridor in Washoe Valley on the chance there might be evidence connected to the killings. Detectives say they did pick up some things during that search, but nothing found there led to Saturday's arrest.

Sheriff's Offices in Washoe and Douglas County and Carson City worked closely during the week and a half of investigations with other area agencies, including Reno and Sparks Police, as well as the FBI.

Statement from Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam:

GOOD AFTERNOON, I’M WASHOE COUNTY SHERIFF DARIN BALAAM. THANK YOU ONCE AGAIN FOR JOINING US THIS AFTERNOON FOR AN IMPORTANT UPDATE ON THE WASHOE COUNTY AND DOUGLAS COUNTY HOMICIDE INVESTIGATIONS.

THREE DAYS AGO, YOUR LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES MADE A COMMITMENT THAT – AS THESE HOMICIDE INVESTIGATIONS PROGRESSED - OUR HIGHEST PRIORITY WAS THE SAFETY OF OUR COMMUNITIES, AND BRINGING THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR THESE CRIMES TO JUSTICE.

TODAY, I AM PLEASED TO TELL YOU THAT WE HAVE A SUSPECT IN CUSTODY.

I WANT TO STRESS THAT WE ARE STILL IN THE MIDDLE OF THE INVESTIGATION SO WE WILL BE LIMITED IN WHAT INFORMATION WE CAN RELEASE AT THIS TIME – HOWEVER, WE FELT IT WAS IMPORTANT FOR THE PUBLIC TO KNOW THAT WE ARE CONFIDENT WE HAVE THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR THE LA GUARDIA LANE HOMICIDES AS WELL AS THE HOMICIDES IN DOUGLAS COUNTY.  THE INFORMATION WE HAVE NOW INDICATES THERE ARE NO OUTSTANDING SUSPECTS AT THIS TIME, BUT THE INVESTIGATION IT STILL ON GOING.

WILBER ERNESTO MARTINEZ-GUZMAN, A NINETEEN-YEAR-OLD MALE CURRENLTY LIVING IN CARSON CITY WAS TAKEN INTO CUSTODY BY THE CARSON CITY SHERIFF’S OFFICE AT APPROXIMATELY 4:30 P.M. YESTERDAY AFTERNOON.

HE IS CURRENTLY BEING HELD IN THE CARSON CITY DENTENTION FACILITY ON CHARGES RELATED TO POSSESSION OF STOLEN PROPERTY AS WELL AS IMMIGRATION CHARGES.

AS I MENTIONED EARLIER, AT THIS STAGE IN THE INVESTIGATION WE FEEL CONFIDENT WE HAVE EVIDENCE THAT WILL LINK HIM TO ALL FOUR HOMICIDES.

JOINING ME TODAY IS THE LEAD DETECTIVE FROM WASHOE COUNTY, DETECTIVE STEPHANIE BRADY, ALONG WITH DOUGLAS COUNTY DETECTIVES BRANDON WILLIAMSON AND RYAN YOUNG.

SHERIFF DAN COVERLEY OF DOUGLAS COUNTY WILL TALK ABOUT THEIR INVESTIGATION…

SHERIFF KEN FURLONG OF CARSON CITY WHO WILL DISCUSS YESTERDAY’S EVENTS LEADING UP TO THE ARREST.

WE ARE ALSO JOINED BY WASHOE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY CHRIS HICKS AND DOUGLAS COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY MARC JACKSON, THEY WILL TALK ABOUT HOW THE PROSECUTION WILL MOVE FORWARD FROM HERE IN THIS CASE.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, WE ARE JOINED TODAY BY MEMBERS OF THE DAVID, KOONTZ AND RENKEN/HOOYERINK FAMILIES.

WE ARE HONORED TO HAVE YOU HERE TODAY.  WE CANNOT IMAGINE THE PAIN YOU ARE GOING THROUGH AND WANT YOU TO KNOW THAT YOU AND YOUR FAMILIES ARE IN OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS.  WE HOPE THAT THIS WEEKEND’S EVENTS HELPS YOU AS YOU ATTEMPT TO COPE WITH THESE SENSELESS CRIMES.

BEFORE I HAND THE MICROPHONE OVER TO SHERIFF COVERLEY – I WANT TO EXPRESS MY DEEPEST GRATITUDE TO ALL THE LAW ENFORCMENT PERSONNEL AND SUPPORT STAFF WHO HAVE PUT IN COUNTLESS HOURS OF WORK OVER THE PAST FEW DAYS ON THIS CASE.

WE SAID FROM BEGINNING THIS WAS LAW ENFORCEMENTS TOP PRIORITY AND WE CAME TOGETHER AND PEFORMED IN A MANNER IN WHICH OUR COMMUNITIES SHOULD BE PROUD OF.

INVESTIGATORS, PATROL, FORENSIC SCIENCE, VOLUNTEERS, DISPATCH – ALL LOCAL, STATE, AND FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES CAME TOGETHER, AND WORKED TIEREDLESLY TO GET US TO WHERE WE ARE IN THIS INVESTIGATION. 

I CANNOT THANK THEM ENOUGH.

I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO THANK THE COMMUNITY FOR YOUR SUPPORT, YOUR TIPS, AND YOUR PATIENCE DURING THE PAST FEW DAYS.

I’D ALSO LIKE TO INTRODUCE SOME OF THE OTHER AGENCIES HERE TODAY. AGAIN, WITHOUT THEIR INVALUABLE ASSISTANCE WE WOULD NOT BE WHERE WE ARE NOW: RENO POLICE CHIEF JASON SOTO AND, ASSISTANT SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE MICHAEL HICKOCK FROM THE FBI.

AS I’VE SAID, WE CAN’T THANK THEM ENOUGH FOR THEIR COMMITMENT TO THIS INVESTIGATION AND OUR COMMUNITY.

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