A man suspected in the murder of Carson City mother Bertha Anguiano died Wednesday after he was found hanging in his Utah prison cell.
Israel "Juan Carlos" Tellez, 40, was discovered at 1:40 p.m. with one end of a bed sheet threaded through a ceiling air vent and the other end around his neck, said Carson City Sheriff's Sgt. Bob White. He was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
"He had made comments when we interviewed him in October that he might be better off killing himself, but he continued to deny any involvement in her death," said White. "We mentioned the comments to Utah (authorities) so they would watch him."
However, Tellez was no longer on suicide watch at the Utah State Prison, where he was serving five years for pulling a gun on officers. No note was found.
Since the very beginning, White said, Carson City investigators have believed Tellez was responsible for the killing of Anguiano, 33.
The married mother was last seen about 8 a.m. Nov. 10, 2003, outside Empire Elementary School in east Carson City. Ninety minutes later, her 3-year-old son, Andrew, was found behind the Smith's supermarket in Dayton with blood on his clothing and he was clutching a dollar bill. He told police he witnessed his mother's fatal bludgeoning at the hands of a man named "Juan." The child told investigators he saw Juan put his mother in the back of a blue truck under a blanket, and the same man shoved him from the truck at the grocery store after giving him the money.
The investigation revealed Tellez, who went by the name Juan Carlos, and Anguiano may have had an affair at some point. She possibly met him while working in the family's video store on Woodside Drive, White said.
Police were unable to locate Tellez until they received a tip that he was headed to Utah where they found him at an apartment complex in Salt Lake City, White said.
When investigators approached him for questioning, he pulled a gun. A deputy in a vehicle struck Tellez with his patrol car, disarming him. He was convicted in March.
Tellez's Utah conviction and prison sentence proved to be a blessing to investigators and prosecutors.
"We feel fortunate with the fact that we have the ability to complete the investigation," Chief Deputy Anne Langer said Nov. 12. "Time is on our side."
A forensic examination of Tellez's truck found blood belonging to Anguiano. The DNA matched that found on the boy's clothing.
Remains found in the Fallon desert Sept. 16 near where Tellez was renting a room on the day Anguiano disappeared, were identified as Anguiano's through DNA. An autopsy completed Sept. 18, revealed the skull had multiple fractures, there was a fracture to an arm and it appeared the bones had been burned. The cause of death was determined to be "homicide" by blunt-force trauma, according to the report. A fragment of blanket matching that described by the boy was also found at the scene.
White said Anguiano's husband, Filiberto, was shocked when he learned of Tellez's fate. He and his three sons have since moved to Southern California to be with family.
Once a forensic examination of her bones is complete, they will be released to her family for burial, White said.
Sheriff Kenny Furlong said authorities have no doubt Tellez was the man responsible for Anguiano's death. District Attorney Noel Waters said Wednesday murder charges were expected to be filed at the end of December.
"No other suspects have been identified through the course of this investigation and this matter will likely be closed," the sheriff said. "While the status of this investigation remains open (at this point) the conclusion will show that Mr. Tellez would have been charged and likely convicted for death of Bertha Anguiano."
Contact reporter F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.
NOV. 7, 2003
Israel "Juan Carlos" Tellez rents room at Oxbow Motel in Fallon
NOV. 10, 2003
• 8 a.m. Bertha Anguiano drops son off at Empire Elementary, where a man is seen
talking with her in the school parking lot.
• 9:20 a.m. Bertha's 3-year-old son found bloodied and wandering behind Smith's in
Dayton. Boy tells police Juan dropped him off and his mom is dead.
• 11 a.m. Bertha's husband contacted at family's video store.
• 11:15 a.m. Tellez tries unsuccessfully to rent motel room for additional nights.
• 11:30 a.m. Bertha's car found unlocked in Empire Elementary parking lot.
NOV. 21, 2003
Tellez arrested in Salt Lake City. Police recover his 1992 GMC Jimmy.
A Utah jury finds Tellez guilty of aggravated assault, possession of a dangerous weapon by a restricted person and carrying a concealed weapon.
Tellez is sentenced to five years in Utah State Prison.
Bertha's remains discovered outside Fallon.
Suspected murderer Tellez hangs himself in Utah State Prison.