Journalists nationwide expressed shock on Thursday over the murder of Las Vegas investigative reporter Jeff German, allegedly by a politician.
German was stabbed to death outside his home on Friday, and his body was found on Saturday.
Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles was arrested on Wednesday night, charged with murder and held without bail. Reports said his DNA was retrieved at the crime scene, and that police found a straw hat and shoes that resembled the ones seen in a photo of the suspect.
Telles, 45, will likely be formally charged with the crime at his next court appearance.
The 69-year-old German had written a series of stories in the Las Vegas Review-Journal about Telles’ alleged mismanagement of his office and charged that Telles had an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate. Telles, a Democrat, lost his primary reelection bid, although he denied the charges.
German reportedly was planning a follow-up story about Telles.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Richard Scow said German’s reporting on Telles “ruined his political career, likely his marriage,” according to the Review-Journal.
In June, Telles tweeted, “Looking forward to lying smear piece #4 by @JGermanRJ. “#onetrickpony I think he’s mad that I haven’t crawled into a hole and died.”
The killing, rare in that it directly involved a politician, brought home the dangers faced by journalists.
“The murder of Jeff German is a reminder that everyday journalists around the world put their lives on the line to uncover the truth,” says Rebecca Aguilar, national president of the Society of Professional Journalists. “We are saddened by the murder of the veteran investigative reporter at the Las Vegas Review-Journal and thankful that Las Vegas law enforcement has arrested a suspect in this case."
"As the Review-Journal reported, many described [German] as a fearless reporter, the embodiment of the First Amendment, who stood up for society's underdogs and had a strong sense of right and wrong," Aguilar continued. "We should honor [him] by continuing to be like him -- a person of courage, compassion and commitment to the truth.”
German served “as a model for all journalists who ask tough questions and hold the powerful accountable,” said Richard Karpel, executive director of the Nevada Press Association, in a statement cited by the Review-Journal.
Karpel added: “We have been especially horrified by new details that have emerged over the past 24 hours. As an organization dedicated to defending and promoting press freedom in Nevada, we are deeply distressed by the possibility that this attack may have been perpetrated by a public official whose actions German was investigating. That would be a dagger directed at the heart of a free press and a blow to our democracy.”
German was not the first journalist to be slain in the U.S. In 2018, to name one instance, five people were killed in a newsroom massacre at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland.