How slain Las Vegas journalist Jeff German may have helped capture his own killer

Las Vegas Review-Journal investigative reporter Jeff German was a man who lived for his job. And as it turns out, may have died for it. In September 2022, he was stabbed to death by an assailant outside his home.

German was a local legend  renowned for his reporting on infamous mobsters, crooked politicians and murderers.

Jeff German
Jeff German

Harrison Keely


“How big a list of people might have wanted Jeff dead?” “48 Hours” correspondent Peter Van Sant asked Glenn Cook, the Review-Journal’s executive editor. “That’s a line of people that runs from here to Los Angeles,” Cook replied. “This guy’s written about terrible people, who’ve done awful things for over 40 years. The worst kinds of people.”

They came up with a short list of people who may have threatened him. One of those was Clark County public administrator Robert Telles. German had written four articles about Telles’ alleged hostile behavior at the office.

German first learned about the accusations of a toxic workplace from four female Clark County employees. “[Telles] was a horrible, a horrible human being,” one of the women, Rita Reid, told Van Sant. “Monster is the right word.”

“Jeff German was guided by an innate sense of right and wrong,” said Cook. “If he knew someone was engaging in criminal activity, unethical activity, inappropriate behavior … he wanted to do that story, he wanted to bring it to light.”

After German spoke with the four women, they were relieved to find out that German would take on their story. “He did something, and he fought for us,” Goodwin said. “And he is 100 percent our hero.”

They could have never imagined that just five months after meeting him, their hero would be dead.

THE ASSASSINATION OF JEFF GERMAN

Briana Erickson: On September 2nd, 2022, it was a boiling hot late summer day in Las Vegas. And people were getting ready for the Labor Day weekend. … It was late morning when in broad daylight, something terrible happened.

As investigative journalists for the Las Vegas Review-Journal Briana Erickson and Rhonda Prast had seen a lot of bad people do a lot of bad things. But nothing came close to the Machiavellian plot to murder their friend and colleague, Jeff German.

Rhonda Prast: Jeff German was at his house, on vacation. He’d gone out to get something to eat. He came back, shut his garage door. 

Rhonda Prast: You could see in the surveillance video from across the street that … Someone, an assailant, came into his yard, went to the left side of his house, went inside the gate, shut the gate.

Briana Erickson: And then we see Jeff, moments later, opening his garage door and he was instantly ambushed when he turned the corner to where that person was lying in wait. … In the video, you can kind of see a struggle, but German ultimately falls to the ground, and he never gets up.

Peter Van Sant: What happened to him in that attack? 

Rhonda Prast: Jeff was stabbed … He was stabbed seven times, four times in the neck, three in the torso. 

Peter Van Sant: Seven stab wounds … did that suggest what kind of a killing this was?

Rhonda Prast: To me, this was a very personal attack. To stab someone in such a short time viciously seven times, with no warning.

A concerned neighbor found German’s body hidden behind some bushes 24 hours later.

911 OPERATOR: 911 emergency … Do you need police, fire, medical?

NEIGHBOR: I have a neighbor across the street from me. He’s laying in the side yard, um, I believe he’s dead. He’s got blood over him.

Rhonda Prast: It was just a terrible thing to know that he was lying there, and we wondered whether he could have been saved. But medical experts told us later … that he likely died within a minute or two. 

It was a small mercy for a man who had spent his life fighting for the underdog.

Rhonda Prast: At the base, he just wanted to help people and protect people you know … and expose wrongdoing.

From the start, German was shooting for big game. And when he came from Wisconsin in the 1970s las Vegas was the Serengeti. Mark Fierro, a TV reporter at the time, became a lifelong friend and trusted source.

Mark Fierro: Jeff German at the outset was a, a … reporter who caught the most important beat in Las Vegas of his day that was organized crime.

Then a reporter for the Las Vegas Sun, German took on one of the biggest, meanest mobsters on the strip — Tony Spilotro, a power player for the Chicago Mob, who was played by Joe Pesci in Martin Scorsese’s film, “Casino.”

German talked about Spilotro in the podcast “Mobbed Up” about a year before he died:

JEFF GERMAN | “Mobbed Up” podcast: He had a reputation of being a brutal killer, yet he was never convicted of a single murder  … He had the coldest eyes I’ve ever seen.

JEFF GERMAN | “Mobbed Up” podcast: In my stories, I got used to calling Spilotro by his street name – Tony the Ant. He hated that and it sometimes left me at the receiving end of Spilotro’s nasty stares and his menacing fits of anger.

Mark Fierro: The irony of all of this is — is that Jeff … was not a tall man, was not a strong man, but he toughed it out and he went toe to toe with these guys year in and year out. And some of these guys were dangerous guys.

Try as they did, they couldn’t scare him, says Erickson.

Briana Erickson: After his tires had been slashed and some spooky things were happening to him, he told a mob affiliate in a bar to call off his dogs. Then he got punched in the face. He later described that as a badge of honor.

JEFF GERMAN | “Mobbed Up” podcast: A couple of hours later with four stitches under my lip, I had a war story to tell.

As the mob slowly lost its grip on Vegas, German built a career exposing dirty business, government corruption and crime. Prast, the former assistant managing editor for investigations at the Review-Journal, worked with him for three years.

Rhonda Prast: He kept digging and digging and digging, and he was like the dog, the little dog — that would take a bite of your pants and wouldn’t let go. You know, he was just so laser focused on continuing to go deeper and deeper and deeper into a story.

That tenacity helped him expose the truth in stories that could have remained in the shadows. He was one of the few journalists, along with his colleague David Ferrara, to report on the Susan Winters case — a woman whose parents doubted the suicide ruling in their daughter’s death.

Mark Fierro: And Jeff started putting pieces together. … working with the attorney for the family … that the way that she killed herself was so unseemly that it just didn’t add up. … And once he started … he started pulling on that thread, and then he started pulling on a rope and then it turned into a chain.

That chain turned into a series of stories that targeted the husband. Turns out Winters died from ingesting a lethal combination of painkillers and antifreeze. The husband, who was charged with murder, ultimately pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sent to prison.

As hard-charging and public as German was in his work life, the lifelong bachelor was notoriously private about his personal life.

Mark Fierro: He was always back to business, back to business. This man was born to be a reporter.

The entire newsroom rallied together. His colleagues had no idea who did this or why, but they were determined to do what German would have done: find out.

WHO WANTED JEFF GERMAN DEAD?

The Review-Journal staff was in mourning. Their sorrow — cards and flowers— in full display on German’s desk.

Briana Erickson: It’s a reminder that … this team is not gonna be the same without him … But we can carry on the way he would want us to.

And that meant doing what he would have done. The staff started tugging on threads and searching for clues, working nonstop on one of the most important stories of their careers: who killed Jeff German?


Inside the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s murder coverage of one of its own workers

07:15

Rhonda Prast: Immediately, I started thinking in my head, all right, who had threatened Jeff in any way in the last five months? Who could have possibly done this?

Executive editor Glenn Cook asked Prast to come up with a short list of people to consider.

Rhonda Prast: One of the names I gave him was Robert Telles.

Peter Van Sant: And who is Robert Telles?

Rhonda Prast: He was a Clark County elected official, in charge of the Public Administrator’s Office, which handles estates of people who were deceased.

One of the estate coordinators in Telles’ office, Aleisha Goodwin, had reached out to German in March 2022. She had filed a formal complaint with the County Office of Diversity on behalf of herself and some colleagues claiming Telles harassed, bullied, and discriminated against them.

Rita Reid: He was a horrible, a horrible human being … Monster is the right word.

But Goodwin says, the county did nothing.

Aleisha Goodwin: It was always, “he’s an elected official. There’s nothing we can do.”

German agreed to hear what Goodwin and her colleagues, Noraine Pagdanganan, Rita Reid and Jessica Coleman, had to say.

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From left, Rita Reid, Jessica Coleman, Noraine Pagdanganan and  Aleisha Goodwin.

CBS News


Jessica Coleman: And when he finally talked to us and he let us tell what had happened to us and he said, “No, I’m going to look into this.” … I think that’s the only thing that gave us enough energy to keep going.

According to the women, the trouble began almost immediately after Telles took office in January 2019. Reid, a supervisor, was his second in command and a 12-year veteran of the office.

Rita Reid: He came in very abruptly into the office and he slammed his palms down on my desk (slams hands on table) with a — with a real loud bang.

Peter Van Sant: Like a (slaps hands on table).

Rita Reid: Oh, yes, absolutely. And he leaned forward, and he said, “we’re ripping off the bandage. You no longer supervise anyone, no one reports to you. … They all report to me.” And he turned around and he walked out. And I just sat there stunned.  

The women say they were ordered not to speak to each other in the office.

Jessica Coleman It felt dangerous to even have a hello, good morning, conversation with coworkers in passing.

If caught, the consequences could be severe, says Goodwin. She remembers getting called into Telles’ office after he saw her and two other women talking

Aleisha Goodwin: We walked into his office, and he said, “sit down and shut up. You’re not gonna talk. … I’m gonna talk.” … And he just got this look on his face, he sits back, and he pointed at Noraine and said, “f*** you.”

Peter Van Sant: What was it like to be in that room … receiving that?

Noraine Pagdanganan: It was scary … because … I … Did not want to upset him because I knew how he could be.

Despite years of service, all the women say they feared for their jobs. And Coleman,  who safeguarded the property of the deceased in a caged room, says she feared for her physical safety. She says Telles would sometimes come in and threaten her.

Jessica Coleman: There was an instance where he got in my face and, you know, he’s yelling and I’m sort of backed up against, um, the cage door.

Peter Van Sant: He was trying to physically intimidate you?

Jessica Coleman: Yes, yes. … He would bring his chairs up really close and — and demand that you really pay attention and look him in the eye while he told you horrible things.

One of those horrible things, says Coleman, almost did her in. Alone in the cage together, she says, Telles started by saying that he noticed she never talked to anyone in the office, a bizarre comment considering his no-talking rule.

Jessica Coleman: “If you keep going down this road, you’re going to be like our cases and you’re just going to die alone, and nobody is going to find you.” … and I sat there and cried. Um, and then after that … it’s hard to admit. (Crying) Then I started, um, thinking the best thing I could do would be to sacrifice myself for the girls.

Jessica Coleman: (Crying) And I had actually picked out a place, um, that I was going to hang myself in the hall in view of the door, because he would always come by and — and make sure I was working. And I thought this will be good. If they have to find me this way, then the county will have to do something.

Mercifully, Coleman realized that was not the solution to the problem.

But they came up with another plan. The women believed Telles was having an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate in the office named Roberta. Roberta, they claimed, used that relationship to assume power and privilege beyond her job title.   

Peter Van Sant: Is there any doubt in your mind that the two of them were having a romantic affair?

Rita Reid: No.

Aleisha Goodwin: No.

Jessica Coleman: Absolutely not.

Peter Van Sant: None whatsoever

Jessica Coleman: No because we —

But they needed proof. So they decided to follow them.

Aleisha Goodwin: We had seen a pattern, short dress day. If they went the same direction, we knew that we needed to go.

It was always to the same place, says Goodwin — a parking garage in a nearby mall. The alleged lovers would park next to each other.

Aleisha Goodwin: We started to take pictures and we started to video.

Peter Van Sant: So how did you position yourselves where you could get some video?

Rita Reid: Very carefully.

Peter Van Sant: In a car?

Aleisha Goodwin: Sometimes in a car. Sometimes we would get out of our car. There were — there were kind of some cutouts and pillars where you could get angles here and there. … And we just tried to move around and to get the best that we could.

According to the women, the alleged lovers would ultimately end up in the back seat of Roberta’s car.

Robert Telles captured on video
The women followed and videotaped Robert Telles, pictured leaving the back seat of the car of an alleged lover – a subordinate – at a parking garage where the suspected trysts took place. Both Telles and his alleged lover denied they were having an affair.

Aleisha Goodwin


Peter Van Sant: Roberta has said that they would sit in the back seat because she wanted to be able to make eye contact with him as they were having —

Jessica Coleman: Mm-hmm.

Peter Van Sant: — important office discussions.

Aleisha Goodwin: Yeah.

Jessica Coleman: Yes.

Aleisha Goodwin: That is what she said.

Peter Van Sant: OK. And your reaction to that?

Aleisha Goodwin: Well, that last video we got, we had a little better recorder. You can see the — the shadows. And you can see those heads going together.

Rita Reid: We felt it was so inappropriate.

But this was the shot they believed was the most telling: Roberta leaving the car and smoothing down her dress.

Rita Reid: It was so unbelievable, and it just took a moment to — to digest that it would — I mean, at that moment it was like so real.

After seeing the videos, German asked Roberta about them. She responded, “I have not had an inappropriate relationship with him.”  The Review-Journal published the story.

Peter Van Sant (reads aloud): Let me read the lead in this first article:

“The Clark County Public Administrator’s Office has been mired in turmoil and internal dissension over the past two years with allegations of emotional stress, bullying and favoritism, leading to secret videotaping of the boss and a co-worker outside the office.”

Peter Van Sant: That story went all over the state of Nevada and before long, all over the country.

Peter Van Sant: As this settled in, are you thinking mission accomplished or you thinking what’s gonna happen to us next?

Aleisha Goodwin: Both.

Jessica Coleman: Yeah, the terror didn’t stop. The terror almost just got worse. It just changed face.

THERE WERE WARNING SIGNS

German’s story with its allegations of turmoil, bullying and hostility had a swift and searing effect at the Public Administrator’s Office. The county finally sent in an outside consultant, and Robert Telles lost his bid for re-election in the primary, ironically, to his arch enemy: Rita Reid.

But German wasn’t through with Telles yet. He wrote three more scathing pieces chronicling the fall of the once up-and-coming young Democrat, and another story was in the works.

But German did not survive to write it.

NEWS REPORT: Jeff German was found stabbed to death outside his home in the Northwest Valley …   

When news of German’s murder broke, the women German had fought for were overcome with grief, but also dread — afraid of what they may have unleashed.

Goodwin’s dad, a former Las Vegas police detective who introduced her to German, said what they were all thinking.

Aleisha Goodwin: My dad called me first thing in the morning and said that Jeff had been killed and I didn’t even get to react before my dad’s next word were, “I know who my first suspect is.” … As soon as those words came out of his mouth, I knew immediately too.

Peter Van Sant: That it was Robert?

Aleisha Goodwin: That it was Robert.

Robert Telles
Robert Telles

Las Vegas Review-Journal, Inc./Kevin Cannon


The staff at the Las Vegas Review-Journal was wondering the same thing. Could Telles have been involved?

Peter Van Sant: The journalistic hounds are — are released, right?

Art Kane: Yes. We weren’t gonna do anything until every little rock was overturned and every little fact was found out about what — what this guy was and who he was.

Art Kane, now the investigations editor, was a reporter at the time.

Art Kane: And we started finding out a lot of interesting things about him. For example … He was arrested while he was public administrator … for choking his wife.

911 CALL: Can you please send somebody here? My husband is going crazy.

Art Kane: There’s bodycam video that we have obtained of that.

ROBERT TELLES (police bodycam video): Who did I hit? … cameras, cameras.

OFFICER: Our cameras are on.

ROBERT TELLES: You guys just wanna take me down ’cause I’m a public official.

jeffgerman-tellesvideo.png
Robert Telles seen on police bodycam during his arrest in March 2020.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department


Telles, slurring his words, was arrested for domestic battery and resisting arrest

ROBERT TELLES (police bodycam video): There’s sufficient evidence to book me right now?

OFFICER: There is sufficient evidence to book you right now, yes.

ROBERT TELLES: And I’m — I’m not trying to be like “I’m a public official so you know, do what I want you to f****** do.” I’m saying, I’m not a f***** idiot.

He received a suspended 90-day sentence on the resisting charge and was ordered to attend a corrective thinking class. The battery charge was dismissed.

Art Kane: No one ever heard about it because … no one covers … DUIs and domestics, and that flew under the radar.

Looking back, there were other warning signs, says Erickson. Such as a series of tweets Telles posted in response to German’s reporting.

Peter Van Sant: Read that one for me. 

german-telles-tweets.jpg
A series of tweets Robert Telles posted in response to Jeff German’s reporting. 

X


Briana Erickson (reading tweet): “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. (Laughing emoji.)” 

Peter Van Sant: What did you think of that one?

Briana Erickson: Somebody who’s pretty pissed off.

But the journalists knew angry tweets didn’t prove anything. They needed facts. And facts were hard to come by.

german-suspect-hat.jpg
The suspect was wearing long sleeves, a reflective vest and a straw sun hat.

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department


All they had were two still surveillance photographs the police had released of the suspect in German’s neighborhood.

The outfit, bizarre as it seems, may have been a strategic choice, says Kane.

Art Kane: The outfit is very typical of what construction workers and people who do landscaping wear because they wanna cover up all their skin from the sun.

When the police released a surveillance video, Review-Journal photographer Kevin Cannon immediately noticed something the big hat and orange reflective shirt couldn’t hide: the man’s walk; his gait.

Peter Van Sant: How would you describe that gait?

Kevin Cannon: It’s — it’s a bit of a — a limp and a favor on one side, it seems.

german-telles-gait2.jpg
On Sept. 6, 2022, police released surveillance video of the suspect, left. Review-Journal photographer Kevin Cannon said he was immediately reminded of a walking shot he had taken of Telles, right, when German interviewed him at his office. 

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department/© Las Vegas Review-Journal, Inc./Kevin Cannon


Cannon went digging in his files and found a walking shot he had taken of Telles when Jeff interviewed him at his office. The staff compared both videos side by side.

Kevin Cannon: I’m not sure how to describe it, but it was definitely the identical gait in my mind.

Cannon then went through hundreds of still photos he had taken that day and found another.

german-robert-telles.png
Jeff German, left, and Robert Telles

© Las Vegas Review-Journal, Inc./Kevin Cannon


Kevin Cannon: It’s a very chilling photo. And it’s the one and only photo where Jeff and Telles are in the same photo.

Executive editor Glenn Cook says his staff moved forward on the operating theory that Telles  could have been the killer. But they still didn’t have hard evidence.

Then the police released a photo of the suspect’s car: a maroon Yukon Denali.

Assistant city editor David Ferrara immediately typed Telles’ home address into Google Earth.

David Ferrara: And if you zoom in, on the house, that maroon vehicle is there, parked in the driveway.

The maroon SUV was registered to Telles’ wife.

Glenn Cook: And at that moment we send reporters and photographers straight to the house. And the message I give our Metro editor is, do not engage, do not approach, do not be seen. This man is very likely a suspect in the murder of your colleague, and we can’t predict how he’s gonna react to anyone being near him.

But the photographer – crouching behind his dashboard – managed to get what he came for.

Peter Van Sant: And is this the picture that is taken?

Glenn Cook: That’s the photo.

Peter Van Sant: This is the money photo.

Glenn Cook: It’s the money shot.

german-telles-car.png
Robert Telles photographed washing his SUV in his driveway.

© Las Vegas Review-Journal, Inc./Benjamin Hager


Glenn Cook: Robert Telles on a scorching hot 110-degree day is in jeans in his driveway, washing the maroon GMC Yukon Denali.

Peter Van Sant: This must have been a moment where, I don’t know if there’s any cheering going on in your newsroom, but what a development. What does this mean?

Art Kane: Well, it means that possibly Jeff was killed by the last story he wrote about. I mean, this was his last investigation and — and the suspect appears to be the guy he wrote about and basically took him out of office.

Without corroboration from police documents, The Review-Journal couldn’t go with the story. But Cook was betting it wouldn’t be long. His reporters had seen unmarked police cars outside Robert Telles’ home.

Glenn Cook: We have every reason to believe at this point that it’s only a matter of time before a search warrant is gonna be executed at that house.

A search that will uncover crucial evidence.

A STUNNING ARREST

As the investigators geared up to serve Robert Telles with a search warrant, the Review-Journal needed to be sure it would be the first to break the news.

Briana Erickson: It was important because Jeff was always first, and we wouldn’t wanna let him down and not be the first.

Glenn Cook: We polish that story … and then we sit on it until … police move in …

In the early morning of Sept. 7, 2022 – just five days after Jeff German’s murder – Telles was brought in for questioning as police searched his home and cars. While he was in custody, detectives collected a DNA sample from Telles. They also took the jeans he was wearing into evidence and gave him a white paper suit to change into before he was taken back to his house and swarmed by reporters eagerly awaiting his arrival.

Inside Telles’ home, investigators say they found gym shoes and a duffel bag similar to what was seen in the surveillance video. And when they looked in the garage, detectives say they discovered even more – a straw sun hat — or what was left of it.

german-telles-sunhat.jpg
 Investigators also searched Robert Telles’ garage and found pieces of a cut-up sun hat that was similar to the straw sun hat the suspect was seen wearing.

Clark County District Court


Peter Van Sant: The sun hat.

Art Kane: the sun hat.

Peter Van Sant: Cut up into pieces?

Art Kane: Yes. Yes.

But police say the most crucial piece of evidence would come from the DNA sample that was taken from Telles earlier that day.

CAPT. DORI KOREN (to reporters): We received positive DNA results that showed Robert Telles’ DNA at the crime scene.

Briana Erickson: Telles’ DNA was under Jeff’s fingernails.

Glenn Cook: There’s no doubt in my mind that Jeff knew exactly what was happening in that split second and he made sure he got the evidence.

With a DNA match apparently secured, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department descended on Telles’ home once again and began clearing the area for an arrest.

Peter Van Sant: And this is where he was arrested?

Kevin Cannon: Yes.

Review-Journal photographer Kevin Cannon was one of dozens of media who had been waiting outside Telles’ home that day.

Peter Van Sant: What happens when the cops arrive?

Kevin Cannon: Suddenly the police said, “OK, everybody out.” They kicked the entire news — everyone who was here out.

Peter Van Sant: Where do you go?

Kevin Cannon: So I made a B-line to the front door of a neighbor who I befriended earlier when I arrived. And they, without saying a word, opened the door and welcomed me in and walk me to their backyard where I could have a view of Telles’ house.

Peter Van Sant: And you could still see the house from your vantage point?

Kevin Cannon: From the backyard, yeah.

Back in the Review-Journal newsroom, some of the staff anxiously kept up with what was happening at the scene through the office’s police radio and heard that Telles refused to come out of his home.

LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE RADIO: Our target is still calm on the phone. However, he has made a couple 405 comments.  

“405 comments” – a code Las Vegas police use to indicate comments associated with self-harm.

Briana Erickson: it was kind of scary at that point. We were thinking, is — is this all gonna end on his terms now?

LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE RADIO:based on the 405 comments, we are going to go ahead and make the official request for SWAT.

Kevin Cannon: My colleagues … heard through the scanner that they were gonna move in because he had cut himself and they wanted to save him before he harmed himself more.

Peter Van Sant: And they wanted to get to him.

Kevin Cannon: Right.

The SWAT team made its move. And that’s when Cannon got ready.

Peter Van Sant: And so you were positioned, you were ready to go then?

Kevin Cannon: Right. I was ready to go the whole time. I mean, I had my finger on the button the whole time. 

Peter Van Sant: Where do you look, what do you see behind you?

Kevin Cannon: Well, I see them rolling him out on a stretcher down — around that corner, down that path, out the driveway and put in an ambulance right here.

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Las Vegas Review-Journal photographer Kevin Cannon was the only photographer that day to capture Robert Telles’ arrest.

© Las Vegas Review-Journal, Inc./Kevin Cannon


Cannon was the only photographer that day to capture Telles’ dramatic arrest. His image of Telles on the stretcher made the front page of the Review-Journal the following morning.

Kevin Cannon: The next day, I, uh, opened the paper and there was a photo on the front page with a banner headline, “Stunning Arrest.” And — It was stunning.

Peter Van Sant: And satisfying for you after all that.

Kevin Cannon: Very satisfying.

Art Kane: It becomes huge news, obviously all over the country.

A reporter allegedly killed by a politician for a story he wrote.

Art Kane: That’s pretty unheard of.

After Telles was treated at the hospital for his self-inflicted injuries, he was booked into the Clark County Detention Center. Six weeks later, Telles was indicted by a grand jury for murder with use of a deadly weapon.

JUDGE: How do you plead? Guilty or not guilty

ROBERT TELLES: Not guilty, Your Honor.

Soon after, evidence from the grand jury was released by the Clark County District Court — including that grainy surveillance attack video. 

Art Kane: I think probably what we found, some of the most disturbing is the last three videos.

Minutes later, it shows the assailant returning to the scene of the crime and parking that maroon Yukon Denali in front of Germain’s driveway,

Art Kane: And now you’ll see him walk over and, um, make sure that Jeff is dead.

Peter Van Sant: And you’re theorizing he is checking to see … if he’s dead because obviously Jeff saw this person.

Art Kane: He wants to make sure that there’s not a witness that’s still alive.

Seemingly satisfied, the suspect walked back to his car and left.

Since his arrest, Telles has been in jail awaiting trial.

CONFRONTING ROBERT TELLES

“48 Hours” met Robert Telles for a video interview at the Clark County Detention Center and began with the question on everyone’s mind.

Peter Van Sant: Did you murder Jeff German?

Robert Telles: No, sir, I did not.

Peter Van Sant : If you did not commit this murder, who did?

Robert Telles: I will … reserve that for trial.

Peter Van Sant: You have said … that you were framed, do you stand by that in this conversation?

Robert Telles: I do. I absolutely do.

Telles says he can explain the evidence against him: the torn up sun hat, the Yukon Denali and his DNA under German’s fingernails.

Robert Telles: I say that that evidence or so-called evidence was planted along with the other items that were allegedly found in my home as well. And we will go ahead and prove that at trial.

Peter Van Sant: How could someone who is trying to frame you plant your DNA under his fingernails? How would that have — have happened? They — first, they would have had to have gotten your DNA. … And then when would they have planted it under his fingernails? It seems far-fetched.

Robert Telles: Well, you know, crazier things have happened, and I’ll tell you that I didn’t kill Mr. German.

Peter Van Sant: Come on, man. That’s overwhelming. … DNA ends up under his fingernails, your DNA. This is an overwhelming case against you, Robert, that you committed this murder.

Robert Telles: Again, sir, you know, you have the facts wrong, and I will demonstrate it at trial.

He also says he will show he didn’t do those things German wrote about in his articles.


Accused killer denies murdering Las Vegas reporter by
48 Hours on
YouTube

Peter Van Sant: Robert, you’re saying that what these women have said to me, what they told Jeff German and he printed, those are all lies?

Robert Telles: If you look at what Mr. German printed, none of it was — none of it had any facts within it, right? … It was all alleged opinion about … you know what how they felt that – that I – I acted.

But it’s hard to argue with the footage the women shot of their boss and his alleged lover in the parking garage.

Peter Van Sant: Let me ask you straight … were you … and Roberta having an affair?

Robert Telles: Uh, no. … she was a … a confidant, um, but I’ll — I’ll leave it at that.

But German was not willing to leave it at that. He was planning on writing another piece.

According to police documents, Telles and Roberta got word the day before the murder that there was a planned release of emails and messages between her and Telles to the Review-Journal.

Peter Van Sant: There was a Freedom of Information [Act] requests that Jeff had put out and you were told … that new messages and emails were gonna come out, describing the relationship between you and Roberta, communications between the two of you. And it’s suggested that you made a decision to murder him to try to silence that, to prevent that from being published. What do you say about that?

Robert Telles: I’m sure that’s a mischaracterization of — of things. … I’ll tell you that what was going to be released and I saw was going be released, um, had no inklings of — of any type of, you know, confidential relationship, any type of supposed affair. … It was all business related … So, that would not have been a motivation because there was nothing that was going to be produced that — that would look bad.

Glenn Cook: Prosecutors have mentioned this as a contributing motive to the murder. In Robert Telles’ mind … Jeff German ruined his marriage, ruined his political career, embarrassed him and was continuing to report on him rather than leave him alone.

If the intention of the alleged killing was to stop German’s reporting, it didn’t work. After his murder, the Review-Journal journalists hunted through German’s notes.

Briana Erickson: Picking up where Jeff left off.

And completed the stories German had been working on at the time of his death, including another on Telles’ toxic past — a story that investigates claims of sexual harassment, all of which he has denied.

Briana Erickson: The main thing here is you cannot kill a reporter and kill the story. You just can’t do that. 

In life, German was known to protect his sources at all costs.

In death, German was still protecting them. After the murder, the police took all his devices — which harbored the names of countless sources.

The Review-Journal went to court, and in a hard-fought court case that went all the way to the Nevada Supreme Court, the paper won protection for his sources.

Mark Fierro: That’ll be the German rule that you will not be able to go into a reporter’s files. You will not be able to go through their phone. You will not be able to look at their sources even after death.

The four Jeff German sources are not about to let the world forget the reporter who fought to protect them. They have attended almost every hearing trying to come to terms with their feelings of guilt.

Aleisha Goodwin: Because no matter what logic is in your head, it’s not your fault that Jeff made his choices and that he was a professional. Your heart tells you if we wouldn’t have made that call, he wouldn’t have died in that violent way that day. And if I was to talk to him today, I think the first thing I would say is, “I’m sorry.” … But not for him, for me, because he wouldn’t have accepted my apology (crying), but I need to give it.

US-NEWS-LASVEGAS-JOURNALIST-KILLED-LV
Jeff German

© Las Vegas Review-Journal, Inc./Kevin Cannon


Jeff German was a reporter’s reporter. One of the good guys. A man who spent a lifetime speaking truth to power, truths that are now baked into the history of this place – a neon strip of gritty stories laid bare beneath the desert sky.

Glenn Cook: He told anyone who asked that he was never going to retire, that he was going to report until his last breath. And that’s exactly what he did … And he gave his life to this job. He literally gave his life to this job. I think that’s his legacy.

Telles’ trial is scheduled for March 18, 2024. 


Produced by Liza Finley and Gabriella Demirdjian. Cindy Cesare and Greg Fisher are the development producers. Gregory F. McLaughlin, Chris Crater, Michelle Harris and Wini Dini are the editors. Peter Schweitzer is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Judy Tygard is the executive producer. 

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