RENO, Nev. (AP) — Detectives in two Northern Nevada counties investigating a string of five homicides, including the discovery of a body near the Mustang Ranch brothel, warned residents to remain vigilant Tuesday even after an arrest in connection with the case.
Investigators found a man and a woman dead Monday morning in a house in Fernley, a city of 19,000 about 30 miles east of Reno. Another man and woman were found dead in a home a half-block away. Deputies said they also found a man dead Monday in a ditch along the Interstate 80 exit for the infamous Mustang Ranch brothel.
"Five people dead in one morning is almost beyond belief," Lyon County sheriff Allen Deil said about the attacks in "one of Fernley's quieter neighborhoods."
"This is absolutely shocking to us. It is senseless. The people we have talked to, they don't know whether to be paranoid, scared to death, shocked, angry," he told reporters at a midday news conference in Fernley.
Jeremiah Bean, 25, of Fernley, was described as a "person of interest" in the killings. He was arrested Monday and booked on two counts of burglary. He was being held at the Lyon County jail on Tuesday on $50,000 bail.
"He had some evidence that came from one of the residences where we had two victims," Deil said. "He was in one of those residences where there were two deceased individuals and had some of their property when he was arrested."
By Tuesday afternoon, investigators had collected an "exhaustive list of evidence," he said.
Authorities were searching for possible accomplices and warned residents to be on the lookout for strangers in the area.
"We're still trying to determine whether we have one or more suspects. There are indications there may be," the sheriff said.
"What we don't want to do is establish some sense of paranoia but we want people to be aware. By all means, lock your doors and windows. ... Notify us in the middle of the night if the dogs start barking."
Investigators don't believe the killings were gang related and there was no evidence of drugs at either Fernley home, Deil said.
Neighbors were helping provide tips to police — "things they may have heard during the night, vehicles they had seen," he said.
"Because of the amount of evidence we had collected in at least four different locations, we are very optimistic about being able to bring this to a resolution."
Authorities have not recovered any firearm or other weapon or instrument that could have been used in the deaths and it's not apparent how the victims died. Autopsies were pending at the Washoe County medical examiner's office in Reno.
"There is a lot of speculation on what the cause of death is," Deil said. "I don't know for certain."
The first dead couple were discovered after firefighters were called to a house on fire in Fernley at about 6 a.m. Monday. About two hours later, Washoe County sheriff's deputies were called to the Mustang exit with the report of a dead man. A short time later, deputies responding to a call for a welfare check found the other two victims in a Fernley home within 100 yards of the house where the first two dead were found.
"This is the most horrific thing I've ever seen," said Stacee Dickey, a neighbor of the Fernley victims. She said she was acquainted with the husband of one of couples killed and he was friendly and "always helping kids."
"Just an all-around nice man," she told KRNV-TV.
The arrest was made two doors down from the site of the initial house fire after a homeowner called police about a man hiding in his garage.
Officers surrounded the man, the suspect Bean, who initially ran out the back door but confronted police and tried to run back out the front of the garage.
Police were looking for a white pickup truck they believe the man found dead near Mustang was driving — a 1998 GMC Silverado with Nevada plates, 336-UNB. KRNV-TV reported that victim was a 52-year-old man from Spanish Springs, a Reno suburb.
Associated Press writer Michelle Rindels contributed to this report from Las Vegas.