The killings of an elderly couple shot dead in their northern Nevada home ahead of Mother’s Day apparently went unnoticed until days later, after the 25-year-old suspect had also killed a newspaper deliveryman and another couple nearby, charging documents allege.
Jeremiah Bean was arraigned Thursday on 19 counts, including first-degree murder, arson and burglary. He was assigned a public defender and is scheduled for a pretrial hearing Tuesday.
The victims were discovered Monday in and around the rural town of Fernley. The timeline laid out in court documents depicts a killer whose first two attacks came May 10 and went undetected, giving him the opportunity to kill three others.
“I’m pretty much in shock. It hasn’t really hit me,” said Gary Dolling, 60, who realized something was wrong when he saw flames leaping 20 to 30 feet in the air from his neighbors’ house Monday morning. “It’s just terrible. It’s just a horrible thing.”
Prosecutors say Bean entered the home of Robert and Dorothy Pape on the Friday before Mother’s Day and shot them. He also took hundreds of dollars in jewelry from the 84-year-olds, the charges state.
Three days later, authorities say, Bean took the Papes’ pickup truck to an exit along Interstate 80, toward the Mustang Ranch brothel.
After the pickup became disabled or stuck, Bean shot and killed a passer-by, stole his truck and left his body in a ditch, according to the Lyon County sheriff.
The 52-year-old victim, Eliazar Graham, worked as a backup deliveryman for the Reno Gazette-Journal. He had been delivering the newspaper at the time of his death, according the paper’s circulation department.
Bean also broke into the home of Angie Duff, 67, where he fatally attacked her and her boyfriend Lester Leiber, 69, with a gun and a knife, charging documents say.
Duff had recently started dating Leiber about four years after her husband died of cancer, according to Gina Gaglione, a fellow volunteer at the Fernley senior center.
Gaglione became concerned when Duff didn’t show up to volunteer Monday, so she sent another woman to check up on her. The woman noticed a smashed back door at Duff’s house and called police, Gaglione told the Gazette-Journal.
Duff’s home is around the corner from the Papes and two houses down from where Bean had been staying from time to time.
The string of killings first came to light early as smoked billowed from the Papes’ home, which is set away from other homes on a large, grassy lot that Robert Pape was often seen tending.
Bean had poured gasoline in the garage, according to court documents, and had somehow used Graham’s stolen truck in the arson.
Bean was found and arrested in the neighborhood where the two couples were killed.
Officials from the Lyon County sheriff’s office were not available to comment on the crimes Friday. No motive has been offered, and neighbors said they didn’t hear gunshots or notice suspicious activity over the weekend.
Dolling said he spoke briefly to the Papes’ son after the grisly discoveries, and the son recalled that he was unable to reach the couple on Mother’s Day.
Dolling also said he saw a white truck and a person standing outside the Papes’ home Monday morning. Without his glasses, Dolling said he assumed it was Robert Pape; he now believes it was the killer.
Sheriff Allen Veil has said that the attacks were on a scale he hasn’t seen in his three decades in Lyon County, historically a small farming community that has grown significantly in the last decade as a bedroom community for people who work in Reno.
“I think there probably should be a sense of relief that we believe we have the person responsible for this in custody,” Veil said at a news conference Wednesday. But he added that residents needed to be vigilant and aware that crime happens even “in little Lyon County.”
Bean has a previous felony conviction related to burglary and attempted grand larceny. He finished his parole in December. Authorities say he has also acknowledged gang ties.