Court records: Suspect confessed then recanted within hours of VC killing
December 28, 2004
VIRGINIA CITY – A Virginia City man confessed to his family that he killed his live-in girlfriend then recanted the confession the following day while his relative spoke with police, a court document reveals.
Gary Brown, 51, wanted in the death of Linda Ziegler, allegedly left a cell phone message at 7:44 p.m. on Dec. 13, saying, “You better answer this, I just killed Linda,” according to a report in support of an arrest warrant filed in Storey County Justice Court.
Ziegler, 52, was found dead in her Virginia City Highlands home on Dec. 14 after deputies responded to the call placed by Brown’s relative.
The document indicates the family member, whom investigators have asked to remain anonymous, said he didn’t listen to the message until some 15 hours after it was left. While speaking with Storey County dispatch Dec. 14 about 12:52 p.m., the relative received another call on his cell phone and placed the police on hold, according to the court filing.
The man came back on the line and told dispatchers it was Brown on the phone and said Brown insisted he was “just pulling a stunt. He was teasing me.”
At 1:10 p.m., deputies looking through a window at Zielger’s Silverado Road home saw blankets on a couch covering what appeared to be a leg and a dog inside “focused on the couch.” Once inside, they discovered Ziegler’s body under the blankets and two $100 bills lying on her.
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An autopsy report revealed the retired San Francisco policewoman died from a gunshot wound to the front of her head at “intermediate range,” according to the report.
“No firearm was found within reach of Linda Ziegler, however an empty handgun case was located in a bedroom where several items belonging to Gary Brown were found. These items included a prescription bottle and a fishing license,” Detective Sgt. Jenine Davis wrote in the report.
Brown was last seen gambling at John Ascuaga’s Nugget on Dec. 13 sometime in the afternoon, and Ziegler spoke to her son by phone between 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., said Lt. Mike Allen with the investigations division of the Nevada Department of Safety.
Allen said the last contact with Brown and his family was on Dec. 17, when Brown possibly called by cell phone from the Reno area near Peavine Peak. A search of the mountain northwest of Reno came up empty.
“We are still doing everything we can to find him,” Allen said Tuesday.
Brown is described as 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 200 pounds. He has brown hair and blue eyes.
He is believed to be driving a silver/gray 1989 Toyota four-wheel-drive pickup with Nevada license plates 682 NVN.
Investigators believe he could be in Northern Nevada, Northern California or possibly the Twin Falls area of Idaho.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Allen at 684-7430 or Secret Witness at 322-4900.
Contact reporter F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.