Murder suspect stayed in the shadows

Published: Jan. 21, 2019 at 6:38 PM PST
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"We are confident we have the person responsible for the La Guardia Lane murders as well as the deaths in Douglas County," Washoe Sheriff Darin Balaam told a press conference Sunday.

With that announcement this corner of northern Nevada began to relax a little and the questions began. How to connect the image of a seemingly less-than-threatening 19-year-old with a


Who was Wilber Ernesto Martinez-Guzman? If guilty of these crimes how were his victims chosen and what was the motive?

We may have to wait for full answers. In fact, as we have learned from law enforcement sources, they still have much to learn about their suspect.

We do know that he is in the United States illegally from El Salvador, an undocumented immigrant. Like many others, he apparently stayed in the shadows, working off the books as a day laborer and handyman.

That alone may explain why he was unknown to Carson City authorities. It's believed he may have lived in Carson City for a year, perhaps. We're told by a neighbor he was there for the last four months in a duplex in east Carson City. Owners tell us he was not on their tenant list.

But investigators began hearing his name late last week as tips came in, suggesting a link to the murders. They located him and kept watch, waiting for word on his immigration status. It was confirmed. He was in the country illegally.

"At the same time, surveillance teams were reporting mobile activities which were increasing our concern for the welfare and safety of the public," said Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong.

"The command staffs for all agencies agreed that Guzman--a person of interest at the time--should be taken into custody on immigration charges."

And so Saturday afternoon, they surrounded his car at a Carson City mall. Witnesses heard the boom of a flash bang grenade. Martinez-Guzman was taken into custody.

Under a no-bail hold for immigration; authorities say he's going nowhere, while investigators build the case against him.

They will certainly learn more in the days ahead. People in this neighborhood we talked with had few answers for us. Even next door neighbors seemed only vaguely aware of him.

Most like the rest of us were still struggling with the task of connecting what little they know with horrific crimes of which he's accused.

Still ahead, formal murder charges, then a decision on who and where to prosecute the case.

There's little reason to rush that process. The break in this case came early and with an unrelated charge that allowed him to be arrested and held without bail, taking him off the street while the investigation continues.

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