Daily News Portal

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

© Las Vegas Review-Journal, Inc./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.


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.


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

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.

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.

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.

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