A man who entered the United States illegally has been taken into custody while authorities investigate the possibility he’s linked to at least four murders.
Authorities in Nevada say Ernesto Martinez Guzman, either 19 or 20 years old, was being held in the Carson City Detention Center.
The Nevada Independent reported the murders have shaken northern Nevada.
The arrest was announced by Washoe County Sheriff Darin Balaam.
Guzman is being held for suspicion of burglary, possession of stolen property and immigration law violations. He was arrested on Saturday.
“At this stage in the investigation, we feel confident we have the evidence that will link him to all four homicides,” the sheriff said in a statement.
The Independent said the homicides may be linked.
Two women, Connie Koontz, 56, and Sophia Renken, 74, were killed in their homes earlier this month in Gardnerville, some 50 miles from Reno.
The report said the victims were found Jan. 10 and Jan. 13.
On Jan. 15, “authorities began investigating two killings in Reno after Gerald David, 81, and Sharon David, 80, were found dead in their South Reno home,” the report said.
“Given the similarities between all four killings, the Federal Bureau of Investigation began aiding in the probe last week, the Associated Press reported. All of the killings relied on a firearm, appeared to target elderly victims and at least two involved property stolen from the homes,” the Independent said.
The arrests followed 24-hour surveillance of Guzman that was staged after tips implicated him, according to Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong.
“They later learned from immigration officials that Martinez Guzman was likely in the country illegally and could be detained on those grounds. Furlong said activities that raised concern for public safety prompted immigration officials and Carson City deputies to take him into custody Saturday afternoon a few blocks south of the state capitol,” the Independent said.
KOLO-TV reported authorities said no one else is being sought in the cases.
Martinez-Guzman had lived in Carson City for about a year.
Besides the burglary and other charges, he was on an immigration hold.
Balaam, in a statement, said he cannot released details because the investigation is ongoing.
“We felt it was important for the public to know that we are confident we have the person responsible for the La Guardia Lan homicides as well as the Homicides in Douglas County.
“At this stage in the investigation we feel confident we have evidence that will link him to all four homicides,” he said.