FALLON - Investigators are cautiously optimistic that the remains of a woman found Thursday in a northwest Fallon desert will close the case of a Carson City mother missing since Nov. 10.
"We want to bring her home," said Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong. "Based on the evidence we have so far, there's no denying Bertha Anguiano met with foul play. We believe she was murdered and have been pursuing that for quite some time. If this proves to be Bertha, our criminal case becomes rock solid."
An unnamed Fallon woman called police Wednesday night after her dog dragged what appeared to be a human arm with a hand attached to her Trento Lane home, said Churchill County Sheriff Richard Ingram.
A local physician confirmed that evening the remains were indeed human, and a search-and-rescue plane took the skies above the desert "at first light" Thursday morning, Ingram said.
"The pilot and spotter were able to cover a large area and saw the reflection of the sun on the bones," he said.
Once the body was located, Ingram contacted Washoe County and Carson City, knowing both departments were working unsolved missing-person cases, he said.
Washoe officials quickly ruled out the body as being anyone missing from their jurisdiction, but a preliminary examination of the remains seem to match Anguiano, Carson City Sheriff's Sgt. Bob White said.
Less than 50 percent of the skeleton was found, he said, but longish brown hair was still attached to the skull, and remnants of an underwire bra and other women's clothing were recovered nearby. It didn't appear that the body was ever buried. Instead, it was discarded behind sagebrush not easily visible from the sandy road some 100 yards away. He said no purse or identification was found.
"We don't know if this is Bertha," he cautioned, "but we are hoping it is so we can give the family some closure."
Nearly a year ago, Anguiano, 33, was reported missing after her 3-year-old son Andrew was found bloodied and abandoned some 12 miles from the family's Woodside Drive home. Andrew told police an agonizing story of witnessing his mother's fatal bludgeoning at the hands of a man named "Juan," and of Juan shoving him from a blue truck.
The ensuing investigation uncovered an alleged extramarital affair between the married mother of three and Israel "Juan Carlos" Tellez.
Police sought Tellez, 40, for questioning, but could not find him.
The last place he was seen in Nevada was the day of Anguiano's disappearance at the Oxbow Motor Inn, six miles from where the remains were found.
On Nov. 21, Tellez was located at an apartment complex in Salt Lake City. When police approached him there for questioning in the Anguiano case, he pulled a weapon from his waistband and was disarmed when a deputy struck him with a police cruiser.
Blood found in the bed of Tellez's blue GMC Jimmy truck matched the blood found on Andrew's clothing, and although police did not say the blood belonged to Anguiano, DNA proved it did belong to a female relative of the boy.
Tellez has denied any knowledge of Anguiano's whereabouts. He is serving up to five years in a Utah prison for the Nov. 21 incident.
White said 10 to 15 searches of remote locations in Carson City, Storey, Lyon and Churchill counties were conducted, but none were done in the area where remains were found Thursday.
An autopsy will be performed on the remains today. DNA results to confirm an identity could take up to three weeks, he said.
White declined to reveal if there was any evidence found at the scene to indicate a cause of death.
"We have a good case against Tellez," Furlong said. "We have all the evidence we need. We just don't have proof Bertha is dead. We just didn't have a body."
You can help
The Carson City Sheriff's Department is asking for the public's assistance for any information relating to this case. Anyone with information should contact the Detective Division at the Carson City Sheriff's Department at 887-2020, ext. 1400, or Secret Witness at 322-4900.
Contact F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.