ELKO — Eduardo Estrada-Puentes’ extradition, a homicide, a sexual abuse case, drugs, burglaries and other crime stories grabbed the public’s attention in 2015. The following summaries of the most read articles of 2015 are assembled from Elko Daily Free Press files.
Estrada back in Elko
In a case that has spanned four-and-a-half years, Eduardo Estrada-Puentes was extradited from Mexico to face charges of murdering Stephanie Gonzalez.
“We’re pretty elated that he’s here now,” said Lidia Cortes, the mother of Gonzalez.
Estrada-Puentes, 34, was brought to Reno in October by the FBI, before being transported to Elko County Jail on the murder warrant.
Estrada-Puentes is accused of strangling his estranged wife on June 25, 2011. Soon after, he fled to Mexico.
With the help of the FBI and Mexico authorities, he was located and arrested in the State of Jalisco, said Police Chief Ben Reed. Estrada-Puentes spent the past year in custody in Mexico City, where he underwent extradition hearings.
According to Free Press files, Estrada-Puentes was developed as a suspect based on witness accounts that he was seen at 84 Garcia Lane with the victim that Saturday morning.
Gonzalez’s family reported her missing later that day when she didn’t return phone calls and hadn’t shown up for work. Her cellphone, keys and purse were still in her home.
Her body was found under a pile of clothes in a bedroom at the residence after officers obtained a search warrant. An amended criminal complaint charging open murder was filed Sept. 27, 2011.
If convicted, Estrada-Puentes cold face life without parole; life with a 20-year minimum for parole; or 50 years with a minimum of 20 years for parole.
After two hearings, Estrada-Puentes was appointed the counsel of the public defender’s office.
Due to the large number of witnesses, Deputy District Attorney Chad Thompson requested two full, consecutive days to conduct the preliminary hearing. Judge Mason Simons set the time and date for 8:30 a.m. on March 3 and 4 in the jail courtroom.
An initial investigation in May revealed that a man might have killed another man in self-defense during a fight.
Clinton Hopper, 32, was killed in his girlfriend’s apartment by Frank Criswell.
Criswell, 28, and the apartment renter, Alesha Piccinini, 29, had gone on a date the evening before, Elko Police Lt. Rich Genseal said. The two had met a few weeks before.
After Hopper was shot, Criswell was able to get out from underneath the victim. He unloaded his gun and began performing CPR on Hopper, Genseal said. Criswell also told Piccinini, who was in the room during the incident, to call 911.
Hopper was transported to Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital and pronounced dead. Criswell also went to the hospital, as he had a sizable bump on his head.
There is no indication Criswell and Hopper knew each other, Detective Dennis Price said. It also appears Criswell did not know Piccinini had a boyfriend.
Police believe the shooting was justifiable homicide, but it is up the Elko County District Attorney’s Office to decide whether to file charges.
An alleged kidnapping in March led to the arrest of two men, but the case didn’t hold up in court.
A 15-year-old girl was allegedly taken against her will by Javier Ramirez Jr., 34, of Elko. The girl was working at La Corona Taqueria on South Fifth Street, where the store’s owner, Benjamin Rodriguez-Perez, 48, of Elko, apparently told her to go with Ramirez, Elko Detective Cpl. Rick Moore said.
While the girl was not harmed, she was afraid Ramirez would hurt her and he made her uncomfortable, Moore said.
Ramirez was arrested for second-degree kidnapping, conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping and false imprisonment. He was jailed on $125,000 bail, but he ended up pleading guilty to disturbing the peace.
Rodriguez-Perez was also arrested for conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping and bribing or intimidating a witness to influence testimony. He was released on $25,000 bail and ended up on the Elko’s Most Wanted list.
Babysitter sex abuse
A police investigation into a babysitter’s alleged sexual abuse on two preteen girls spread to include allegations against the suspect’s wife – a former Girl Scouts volunteer – and at least two more underage victims.
The day after Bradley Parker was booked into jail on suspicion of lewdness with a child, his wife, 42-year-old Barbara Parker, who had advertised babysitting services, was arrested in March.
Police Detective Dennis Price said four victims were identified between the ages of 6 and 10, two of whom were involved with Girl Scouts.
After Bradley Parker, 49, babysat a 7-year-old and a 10-year-old girl, the children told their father Parker had touched a girl inappropriately, according to police. He was called to the police station and immediately arrested.
The couple was bound over to district court in July on charges including child pornography.
Police car shot
Three individuals were classified as persons of interest in September after a shot was fired into an Elko Police Department patrol car.
Just before 2 a.m. on Aug. 30, an on-duty officer was driving east on Silver Street, leaving one call and going to an unrelated domestic violence call, when a bullet hit the door of the driver’s side of the vehicle. The officer was unharmed.
Police recovered video surveillance showing three subjects who were walking in the area around the same time the bullet hit the police car.
After an extensive investigation by detectives, police arrested the man believed to have shot the patrol car in December.
A complaint was filed by the district attorney’s office against the suspect, who was identified as Justin Temoke, 32, of Elko — one of the persons of interest.
The incident was taken very seriously and originally investigated as the possible attempted murder of an officer. Reed explained there was strategy discussed between police and the district attorney’s office as to how to proceed.
Temoke is charged with discharging a firearm in a reckless manner into a motor vehicle and is in custody. His bail was listed at $20,000.
Alleged meth trafficking
In January, motel staff tipped off law enforcement to an alleged drug operation, leading to the arrest of two locals who had a substantial quantity of methamphetamine, according to police.
Police Lt. Ty Trouten said officers responded to a local motel to help employees – who had noticed a large volume of traffic to the room – evict Matthew R. Moreno-Grogg, 19, and Jennifer Stanger, 29, both of Elko.
“As soon as officers got there, they could smell marijuana,” Trouten said.
During the course of talking to the suspects, police discovered about 6 grams of meth, he said. They also found a couple roaches with marijuana residue.
Both Moreno-Grogg and Stanger were booked into Elko County Jail on suspicion of drug trafficking and possession of a controlled substance. Moreno-Grogg is also accused of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.
Bail was listed at $25,727 for Moreno-Grogg and $25,000 for Stanger.
Two local men were arrested in October following a burglary at Vogue Laundry, after one of them applied for a job at the business.
According to Lt. Ty Trouten, Christopher S. Daley, 25, of Spring Creek and Alexander I. Rasch, 19, of Elko gained entry through an unlocked door.
He said video surveillance was able to provide a description of the suspects.
After the incident, one of the suspects tried to apply for a job at the laundry, Trouten said.
Police secured a search warrant, and several cellphones and drug paraphernalia were found.
Daley was arrested on a warrant and charges of burglary, grand larceny, buying, possessing or receiving stolen property, possession of a controlled substance, and 14 counts of use or possession of drug paraphernalia. His bail was listed at $50,055.
Rasch was arrested for burglary, grand larceny and use or possession of drug paraphernalia. His bail was listed at $30,637.
Police arrested a homeless man in August on burglary charges that led to the search of a local residence and resulted in three other arrests.
Lt. Ty Trouten said Zackery S. Morse, 27, broke into his ex-wife’s home. He has never lived there and took property that included clothing, bedding and her wedding dress.
Morse’s arrest led to officers applying for a search warrant for a residence in the 300 block of West Fir Street, where most of her property was recovered.
When Michael J. Tognarelli, 33, of Carlin left the Fir Street residence, he was observed by an officer who knew there was a warrant out for him.
A parolee, Justin D. Bowman, 31, was a passenger in Tognarelli’s vehicle. D’aun M. Ledford, 43, also resided in the home and she was arrested for multiple counts of drug paraphernalia and possession of stolen property.
Loitering and more
When police spotted an 18-year-old woman who appeared to be too young to be hanging around in a local casino in January, it led to more than a loitering charge.
“Officers were basically doing bar walkthroughs,” said Ty Trouten, police lieutenant, and they suspected Kaylee A. Sharlow’s age to be below 21. She was in the gaming establishment with a man in his 20s.
After talking with the suspect, police arrested her for loitering. At the jail, law enforcement searched a backpack she had been wearing and found ID that confirmed her age. Police also reportedly found a tenth of a gram of heroin, two hypodermic needles, a spoon with burn marks and tufts of cotton on one side and a marijuana pipe, Trouten added.
Sharlow was booked into the Elko County Jail on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, loitering in a gaming area as a minor, and resisting an officer. Bail was listed at $10,311.
A downtown business was damaged when an alleged drunken driver smashed his truck through the front of Mishmash & Muddle after midnight on a Saturday night in January.
“There’s a lot of damage,” said business owner Mary McGarry.
An employee at the Horseshoe Club called the police and fire departments. The driver of the vehicle, which had Texas license plates, was arrested at the scene.
Two days later another driver plowed into Carlin Trend on Fifth Street, just around the corner from Mishmash & Muddle, but that accident was the result of a medical condition.