Bone DNA matches missing mother’s
September 23, 2004
FALLON – Bones found last week in the Fallon desert are those of a 33-year-old Carson City mother missing since Nov. 10, police said Wednesday.
Skull, hip, rib and leg bones recovered in sagebrush at the north end of Trento Lane on Sept. 16 were identified as Bertha Anguiano through DNA testing earlier this week, said Churchill County Sheriff Richard Ingram.
“The DNA analysis process has placed a certainty of probability at 99.98 percent,” Ingram said.
The remains were located three-quarters of a mile from a home where the family dog had dragged back a human arm and hand bones the previous evening.
DNA obtained from the arm bone matched that taken from teeth recovered at the site, Ingram said.
The final identification was made when the bone and tooth DNA was compared to a sample belonging to Anguiano.
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Ingram said an examination at the Washoe County Coroner’s Office was unable to determine what killed Anguiano. The findings of a forensic pathologist in Chico, Calif., have not been released.
Following a meeting Wednesday between Carson City and Churchill County officials, it was determined Carson City will take the lead in the investigation, said Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong.
The situation presents unique circumstances, Furlong said, since evidence suggests Anguiano was abducted from Carson City, but her remains were found 60 miles east near Highway 50 in Churchill County.
Anguiano was last seen about 8 a.m. talking with a man outside Empire Elementary School where she’d dropped off her 6-year-old son. Her unlocked car was found the same day with her keys inside.
Twelve miles east and some 90 minutes later, construction workers found 3-year-old Andrew Anguiano, his clothing splattered with blood, in a Dayton grocery store parking lot. He told police he witnessed his mother’s fatal bludgeoning at the hands of a man named “Juan.”
He said Juan then covered Anguiano in a blanket and put her in the back of his truck. He also said it was Juan who later shoved a $1 bill into his hand and pushed him from a blue truck at the Smith’s supermarket.
Israel “Juan Carlos” Tellez, 40, became a key figure in the case after investigators learned the married mother of three was allegedly having an affair with him.
Andrew allegedly identified Tellez as Juan in a picture shown to him by police.
Tellez, an undocumented immigrant, was located in Salt Lake City on Nov. 21 where he pulled a gun on officers who approached him for questioning in the Anguiano disappearance. Despite his denying recent contact with Anguiano, a forensic examination of his blue GMC Jimmy found large amounts of blood residue that matched the blood on Andrew’s clothing, according to court documents.
Tellez is currently serving a prison sentence in Utah on charges of assault with a deadly weapon. The Carson City District Attorney’s Office is declining comment on any pending charges facing Tellez.
For 10 months, Carson City investigators actively worked the Anguiano case following every lead and tip that came in, said Sgt. Bob White.
At least 20 searches of remote areas were conducted – sometimes by entire search and rescue crews and sometimes by just one or two investigators, he said.
When analysis of the dirt underneath Tellez’s truck proved high in tungsten, abandoned mines in Virginia City were searched. During one such search, there appeared to be a blanket on the bottom of the mine. A camera lowered into the vacant cavern revealed it was nothing more than dirt. Two other mines were similarly searched.
When a psychic suggested Anguiano’s body would be found near a cemetery, off a road with a Hispanic name, Lyon County search and rescue crews spent a day searching the civil war encampment Fort Churchill accessible by Chavez Road.
Crews searched the banks surrounding Lake Lahontan when reports came in that muddied linens were found in a Fallon motel room Tellez was evicted from on the day of the disappearance. The linens were thrown out by the motel cleaning staff before detectives had a chance to examine them.
Break-a-heart Road in Silver Springs was searched after someone reported they’d found clothing there.
“We searched culverts and areas of concealment all along the Highway 50 corridor,” said Forensic Specialist Dean Higman.
“We went to extreme measures to bring information in that would help find her,” said Furlong. “Although we are happy to have some resolution, at the same time I have a sense of let down that she’s coming home and we have to admit that she’s dead.”
What drove investigators to continue working the case with such urgency, he said, was the sheer horror of what they imagined little Andrew must have seen.
“What that baby told us is amazing,” Furlong said. “The accuracy of the information he gave has all just been dead on. When you try to communicate with a 3-year-old, it’s normally very difficult, but this 3-year-old brought forth a tragic event to perfect strangers. Andrew has been critical in the investigation.”
Contact F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.