Thursday, June 17, 2010

Newly released documents offer timeline in killing of rancher

Few new details on the shooting death of a Cochise County rancher were revealed by a number of newly released sheriff’s office reports in which much information was blacked out with a marker. Robert Krentz was reported missing by relatives March 27 after they lost contact with him while he was out checking wells on his 35,000-acre property northeast of Douglas. Here’s a look at that timeline as related: On the morning of March 27, Robert Krentz went out to check on four wells scattered throughout his property. Between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., Krentz radioed his brother, Phil Krentz, and said he had encountered an illegal immigrant who was apparently injured. This account was corroborated by two local ranchers who said they heard the radio traffic from their property nearby, according to the narratives of Cochise County deputies and investigators contained in the report. After the initial message, contact between Krentz and his brother was lost. About 30 minutes later, Krentz’s son, Frank Krentz, went to Lower Well, the first well his father was checking that day, after noticing the dirt path leading to the next well did not show tracks his father’s ATV would have left, had it proceeded on to the next well. When the son arrived at Lower Well around 11 a.m., Robert Krentz was nowhere to be found, according to the report. Family members began to call and radio for Robert Krentz, but received no reply. About 6:45 p.m., the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office received a call from the Krentz family reporting Robert Krentz missing. A search began, and shortly before midnight, a Department of Public Safety helicopter located Krentz’s body about half a mile from the well. Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene soon after and determined both Krentz and his dog Blue had been shot. Krentz was pronounced dead at the scene, while the dog, which later had to be euthanized due to its injuries, continued to protect him from approaching investigators. As the sun began to rise about 6:10 a.m. the following morning, sheriff’s deputies and a Department of Corrections chase team followed the ATV’s tread marks north from the scene. About 1,000 feet away, acceleration marks, dog tracks and a single set of footprints were found, according to the report. Utilizing a bloodhound, the chase team began following the footprints south. An agent with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement later informed deputies that he tracked the same set of footprints to about a mile north of the Mexican border...more

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