UPDATE: Douglas County searching property of slain killer
UPDATE, AUG. 8, 2:10 p.m.
Property in the Gardnerville Ranchos belonging to convicted killer and alleged murder victim Kenneth Pestana is being searched as part of a cold homicide case.
Douglas County Sheriff’s investigators responded to a tip from a Carson City inmate that there might be a body on Pestana’s property, according to Capt. Dan Coverley.
Pestana left Gardnerville for Grass Valley a few years ago, but the assessor’s office indicates he stills owns the home and property at 1085 Centerville Lane.
Investigators arrived at the scene near Centerville and Marianne around 4 p.m. Tuesday. A neighbor said he saw an inmate on the property showing officials around.
On Wednesday, the sheriff’s office brought out ground penetrating radar to look for any promising dig sites.
Coverley said that they were waiting for a warrant to start excavating those locations.
Undersheriff Paul Howell said Douglas Investigation Division personnel anticipate remaining on this property on a multi-day operation to search for and if located, recover any human remains that may be found.
Pestana lived in Gardnerville for a decade before telling a judge he was leaving the county after he admitted to a gross misdemeanor drug charge.
Pestana’s home was searched in 2011 after he was stabbed by his girlfriend, who was sentenced to jail in the incident.
Pestana has been the subject of two previous arrests in Douglas County, in 2004 and 2009. In both cases, charges were dismissed.
He was convicted of second-degree murder in 1973 and served time in Soledad Prison in California.
A long-time associate is undergoing a trial in Truckee for allegedly cutting Pestana’s throat on June 7, 2017.
Joseph Ward, 32, picketed on Pestana’s behalf in 2004 when the older man was facing charges for allegedly kidnapping a 19-year-old. Four of five charges in that case were dismissed. Pestana was bound over on a charge of supplying a controlled substance, where Justice of the Peace Jim EnEarl described him as “the Pied Piper of every emotionally crippled teenage young adult in Carson Valley that uses methamphetamine.”
Douglas County sheriff’s investigators are at a scene near Centerville and Marianne west of the Gardnerville Ranchos.
Douglas County Undersheriff Paul Howell said the investigation was part of a cold homicide case, which detectives have been working on since mid-July.
“Further investigation enabled detectives to obtain a search warrant for a residential property on Centerville Lane in Douglas County, to search for possible human remains buried on the property,” Howell said Tuesday night.
Douglas County Sheriff’s Investigation Division personnel anticipate remaining on this property on a multi-day operation to search for and to recover any human remains that may be found
A neighbor said she first saw patrol and unmarked sheriff’s vehicles parked in the neighborhood around 4 p.m., on Tuesday.
She said a site on Marianne has been cordoned off with yellow tape. She said they were setting up lights for what appears to be a protracted investigation.
The Record-Courier has contacted the Sheriff’s Office and was told no statement was being issued.