The widow of slain Cochise County border rancher Rob Krentz has asked the Superior Court to prohibit Cochise County officials from releasing any information about her husband's death.
The request for injunction was filed Monday, after Fronteras Desk revealed that a U.S. resident is a person of interest in the killing.
More than 400 photos and 300 pages were released on Sept. 30. Some of the photos are autopsy and crime scene photos which Fronteras Desk has chosen not to publish due to their graphic nature. The record released is incomplete; for instance, it doesn't contain some of the recent interviews investigators conducted.
In 2010, the popular and well-respected rancher was found shot to death on his property.
The law enforcement report from that day said that Krentz was last heard from at 10 a.m. on March 27. He had radioed his brother, and told him that he'd seen an undocumented immigrant nearby, who seemed to be in need of help. Nearly 14 hours later, an Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter found Krentz's body. Footprints at the scene were tracked to the Mexican border.
The killing and the fact that the suspect's footprints went into Mexico started a firestorm in the U.S. Within a month, Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law. Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords asked President Barack Obama to bring the National Guard to the border. Ranchers and residents in the San Bernardino Valley, where Krentz's ranch stands, lived in fear.
The killing came at a time when Mexico's cartels had destabilized entire regions of the country with massacres and gun battles. It was one of the few times that a U.S. citizen, who seemed to have little connection to Mexico, was killed, apparently by a Mexican national.
One man, which the sheriff's investigators focused on, was Alejandro Chavez Vasquez, a suspect in a series of burglaries in the nearby town of Portal. He was identified as a person of interest in the Krentz killing but was never seen again by U.S. law enforcement.
However, in an interview with Fronteras Desk, Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels revealed that Manuel Corona, a resident of Cochise County whose citizenship is unknown, is also a person of interest in the case. Dannels has not said why Corona is a person of interest in the murder.
After the story was published, the Cochise County Sheriff's Department released a statement:
"As the result of multiple Arizona public records requests, the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office has released copies of the Krentz homicide report. The initial report and multiple supplementary documents were previously released between the time of the incident in 2010 and now, with information concerning anywhere between 30 to 50 persons of interest. For the sheriff’s office investigative purposes, persons of interest are defined as anyone who may have information regarding subjects involved in an incident in any capacity, to include suspects and/or anyone who can relay any insight with regards to each particular case."
"As the investigation is continuing to evolve with a variety of informational sources contributing to the forward movement, many of the people mentioned in these reports have been interviewed and any information gathered as a result has been supplemented to the case."
The statement does not say whether Corona was among those already interviewed.
The day after Susan Krentz filed the injunction request, the Cochise County Attorney's Office sent a letter to Fronteras Desk and other news media in Arizona.
The injunction said, "The Cochise County Sheriff's Office will not be joining in the plaintiff's application. The sheriff's office will be filing a motion requesting the court designate it as a neutral custodian of records."
The injunction request is similar to one made by widows and family members of some firefighters killed in the Yarnell Hill fire in at the end of June. The Arizona Republic and KPNX-TV filed a suit requesting documents of the investigation, but not photos of the victims' remain.
Krentz is represented by Arizona Voice for Crime Victims. The request read, "The emotional pain of Rob's murder is still fresh, even more than three and a half years later."
It also said, "The publication of crime scene or autopsy photos of Rob would have an adverse emotional impact on the Krentz family. Additionally, the investigative materials likely contain private and confidential information about the victims."
On Sunday, Krentz was quoted in a Tea Party announcement about a vigil for people killed by immigrants who crossed the border illegally. The event was sponsored by the Remember 1986 Coalition and the Remembrance Project.
"In Arizona, Sue Krentz, wife of Cochise County Rancher Robert Krentz killed by an illegal alien on March 27, 2010 will attend the ceremony," the press release about the event said.
It quoted Susan Krentz saying, "It is absolutely disgraceful that the loss of my husband is being diminished by the mainstream media. Robert is no less significant to his family or his community. We can no longer vacillate on the issue of border security. There is too much at stake."