No cause of death on found bones | TahoeDailyTribune.com

No cause of death on found bones

MINDEN — Skeletal remains found last week near Shakespeare Rock in Douglas County are believed to belong to a woman missing for over a year from “outside the area,” the Douglas County Sheriff said Monday, but officials are no closer to determining what caused her death. Sheriff Ron Pierini said his office is awaiting confirmation on the identity from Washoe County today and notification of next of kin before they release the victim’s name. “We are fairly certain we know who it is,” he said. “But it could be a difficult task to find the cause of death.” He said the bones appear to have been there for at least a year. Hikers in the forested area southeast of Highway 50 West found a skull about 6:30 p.m. Friday. They carried the skull to the Tahoe Douglas Fire Station in Glenbrook who contacted the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department. Pierini said ideally if someone comes across bones of any kind, “leave it be, get on the phone and get officers out there. Disturbing any kind of crime scene is bad because we have to try to put it back together.”

Douglas sheriff will seek fourth term

MINDEN ” Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini remembers his first day as a law enforcement officer ” April 15, 1973 ” as if it were yesterday. “It was a Sunday swing shift at 4 p.m. I remember the feeling I had putting that uniform on for the first time,” he said. “It’s never gone away.” Pierini said he hopes voters will elect him to another four years when his term expires next year. “I’m 100 percent sure I am going to run for another term. I enjoy the job, the people I work with. I love this community and there is a lot to accomplish. I have a high energy level and I hope to lead this organization for another four years,” Pierini said. Pierini, 57, began his law enforcement career as a 17-year-old cadet in Carson City. He became a Carson City deputy at age 21 after earning his degree in criminal justice from University of Nevada, Reno. He joined the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in 1976. One year later, he took over the sheriff’s substation at Lake Tahoe where he worked for the next 18 years. “I really enjoyed Lake Tahoe,” Pierini said. “It was almost like being chief of police.” At that time, 80 percent of the criminal activity was at Lake Tahoe with 20 percent in Carson Valley. “We were really busy at the Lake in the 1970s and 1980s,” Pierini said. He was appointed sheriff in 1997 to fill out the unexpired term after Jerry Maple retired. Pierini has been unopposed for two terms. He credits his success to his administrative staff and the caliber of employees the sheriff’s office employs. “I am really, really pleased with the administrative staff I have and the dedicated, level-headed, ethical team approach we’ve adopted. I think we have one of the highest respected agencies in the state,” he said. Pierini said it takes up to three months to hire new deputies. Even with the unstable job market, Pierini said it’s difficult to find candidates who make the grade. “Not all agencies do as much as we do. The hiring process includes in-depth background investigation and testing,” he said. Pierini is preparing to oversee a 30,000-square-foot expansion of the Douglas County Jail officials say is long overdue and is set to begin in June. Officials hope to complete all three phases of the expansion paid for through the county’s construction fund. Pierini said if all phases can’t be completed, he will make a priority of the kitchen expansion and additional medical cells. “The kitchen is 30 years old and it doesn’t meet health standards,” he said. With the cuts in mental health services, the jail is housing more inmates with mental health issues, requiring an increase in holding cells. One of the department’s strengths is in technology, Pierini said. “Ten years ago, our technology was poor,” he said. “With the help of the county commissioners and the community, we’ve been able to greatly expand in that area. We can respond faster and solve crimes more quickly. Patrol officers have on-board computers and radio communications have been improved, he said. Along with other county departments, Pierini is adjusting the department’s budget to meet the decline in revenue due to the economic downturn. With 99 sworn officers out of a total 120 employees, Pierini knows what a priority law enforcement is to Douglas County residents. He’s leaving some positions vacant to find $650,000 to trim from the department’s budget. “This year is tough, but I think next year will be tougher,” he said. “Everything has been cut to bare bones. We have nowhere else to go.” Looking ahead to the next few years, Pierini said he wants to continue to focus on technology and training. “Our training is good, but you can never do enough,” he said. When Pierini looks over the last 36 years, he said his career turned out better than he expected. “I really enjoy my job. I look forward to going to work every day,” he said. “The sheriff’s office gets such support from the community. They appreciate the job we’re doing.” He credits that to the department’s 120 employees. “We have a real honest, good bunch of people who work here. They work way over their regular hours because they care,” he said.

Woman faces charges in death of husband

A 50-year-old Round Hill woman is to appear in Tahoe Township Justice Court on Tuesday to answer charges that she shot her 64-year-old husband, and tried to make it look like a suicide. Tatiana Leibel is being held without bail in Douglas County Jail in Minden on an open murder charge. She was arrested Tuesday, two days after she called 911 to report that her husband, Harold, had shot himself. Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini said investigators determined that the victim had two gunshot wounds, one in the hand and one in the chest. The victim was deceased when officers arrived. "We are extremely comfortable that the person who killed Mr. Leibel is in custody," Pierini said. Tatiana Leibel was arrested at the home of an acquaintance, Pierini said. Pierini said law enforcement had no prior contacts with the couple, and there was no immediate indication that either had a criminal record. He said there was no one else at the couple's Round Hill home at the time of the shooting. Pierini said investigators were looking at the couple's finances and other factors for a motive. The Leibel shooting is the fourth homicide involving Douglas County residents in four months. Pierini said Douglas County homicides were isolated incidents of domestic violence. "This is more probably than we have experienced in a number of years," Pierini said. "We work really hard with domestic violence prevention coordinator Connie Richardson, the district attorney's office and the Family Support Council." He said in each incident, the sheriff's office had no prior contact with the subjects involved. "If we'd had information beforehand, we would have intervened," Pierini said.

New sheriff wants help from community

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office covers a county with 702 square miles. Under minimum staffing, a patrol shift consists of three deputies in the valley and three at the lake basin. Newly appointed Sheriff Ron Pierini knows the employees of the sheriff’s department alone can’t meet the law enforcement needs of Douglas County. But he believes they can with the help of the county’s 36,000 residents. “One of the things I feel very strongly about is getting community involvement in law enforcement,” Pierini said. “That’s why we spend time going out into the schools and encouraging community policing programs.” Pierini, 45, a native of Carson City, officially takes command for retiring Sheriff Jerry Maple on Oct. 3 in a ceremony on the county courthouse steps in Minden. Pierini began with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office in 1976, at the age of 21, after his graduation from the University of Nevada in Reno with a bachelor’s in administration and criminal justice. His interest in law enforcement began before college with membership in the a Carson City Explorer program. For many years, Pierini worked at the Douglas County lake substation forging strong ties with the Tahoe community as a deputy and substation commander. Three years ago he was named undersheriff, a position he is eliminating as sheriff, placing the duties with two chiefs deputies, Robert Wenner and Robert Rudnick. Pierini said the change will save the department about $15,000 a year. “My affiliation with the lake isn’t going to change,” Pierini said. “I never want to lose touch with the community. Its been very good to me. I know the people and I know what their concerns are.” The biggest concerns, according to Pierini, are violence, gang activity and traffic violations. “The sheriff’s department has zero tolerance on gangs,” Pierini said emphatically. “I’m not so naive to say there aren’t gang members in Douglas County, but I think we have stayed on top of it. There is zero tolerance because once gangs get established they’re almost impossible to stop.” As for traffic, Pierini said with only four traffic officers in the department, it is utilizing more community programs. The recent move to involve the county high schools and parents in sanctions on teens who break traffic laws before, after and during school hours is starting this month. Pierini said the department will also be utilizing retired officers to help enforce traffic laws. “We are going to crack down,” Pierini said. “But I’m not looking at it as a money generator for the department. I don’t believe in that kind of philosophy.” Pierini received strong community support in his bid for sheriff. He was elected unanimously by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners. “It sends a clear message of a vote of confidence in the sheriff’s department,” Pierini said. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Protective Agency, a group consisting of the department’s deputies and investigators, also gave Pierini a clear vote of confidence. The agency took a membership vote before the commissioners appointment and Pierini came out on top with an overwhelming share of the vote. “Based on his past dedication and performance he’s the one we want leading the department,” said Mark Munoz, president of the sheriff’s protective agency. “We’ve got the confidence in him to lead us on from here.” Pierini said he also plans to begin utilizing inmate labor for projects around the county and aggressively seeking grants to supplement the department’s budget. Pierini said the department had recently applied for a $25,000 federal grant for technological improvements for investigations. He has also asked the county commissioners to authorize the sheriff’s department to build a public shooting range that could also be used for department training. Pierini said he believes there is federal funding available for such a facility. Pierini’s term runs till the first week in January of 1999. The next general election for the sheriff’s position is November of 1998. Pierini said he plans to run for the position and will be the first to sign up in May.

DC sheriff to run again

It’s official. Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini will seek another four-year term. “I don’t think there was any doubt I wouldn’t run in 2002,” he said Friday. Although the election process doesn’t really start until next winter, Pierini said the time is now to begin organizing a campaign. Also, Thursday marked public recognition of his 25th year with Douglas County. And Pierini hopes to make it 30 years. “I’m just not ready to retire,” he said. He was honored with a plaque during Thursday’s Douglas County Commission meeting. The ceremony was attended by about 20 sheriff’s employees. Pierini said his office faces a steady challenge from growth, which will require additional staffing. “Money is also going to be an issue,” he said. Pierini added that he “enjoys (the) job immensely.” “It’s a great community to work for,” he said. “The men and women of the department couldn’t be better.” “There’s a lot of things to accomplish in the future and to make this the best community we know how,” he said. “We look forward to these challenges.”

Douglas County, Nev., Sheriff Pierini wins fifth term

Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini was carrying a bouquet of roses and a big campaign sign as he came out of Rancho Grande Restaurant in Gardnerville after his commanding victory on Tuesday night. Pierini, 62, defeated challenger Dave Brady, 11,677 votes to 5,266, less than half a percent short of his 69.3 percent primary victory over both Brady and Michael Gyll. "We spent eight months working hard, and we received all this support," he said. "It's a very humble feeling. I really am blessed." Pierini said he felt the message from the community was that he and the sheriff's office are doing a great job. "We have a professional law enforcement agency and people want us to continue that over the next four years," he said. Pierini said he went door-to-door during the campaign, attending every social and political event he could. "I took this campaign extremely seriously," he said. "We started before the primary, we made a plan, and we didn't stop for eight months. We joked (after the election) we'll get up and wonder what three things we have to be at this week." This is Pierini's fifth term in office since he was appointed to replace Sheriff Jerry Maple in 1997. By the end of his term on Dec. 31, 2018, he will have spent 21 years as sheriff and 45 years in law enforcement. Brady said he was disappointed with the numbers, but hasn't given up on the idea of being sheriff. "I'm not throwing out my yard signs, trust me," he said. Brady said he knew he had a uphill climb against Pierini, but that he felt it was important to continue his narrative. "We didn't get across our message that our public safety dollars are not being spent wisely, and that the sheriff's office needs new leadership with a fresh perspective," he said. Brady said Douglas County is not really a safe community. "I don't think we're really feeling safe, as we are being lucky," he said. "It is a matter of time before voters will recognize we do need a change in leadership. That's what I'm hoping for. We're certainly not going away." According to the Douglas County Clerk-Treasurer's Office, 61.93 percent of the county electorate cast a ballot in this general election. GOP candidates fared well in this county that has a 2-1 Republican majority. The sheriff's race was the only countywide race with county commissioners and school board trustees running without opponents for the first time in history.

Sales tax for law enforcement eyed

MINDEN – Douglas County commissioners could approve an advisory question to increase sales tax a half percent to fund the Douglas County criminal justice system, a move that would mean more police on the force and a better quality of life for Douglas County residents, according to Sheriff Ron Pierini. “We protect $3 billion worth of assets in Douglas County,” he said. “We must have enough police officers.” Since 1990, Douglas County’s population has increased by 81 percent. In 1995 the sheriff’s office received 38,000 calls for service and by 2005, that number had increased to 93,000, Pierini said. He praised county commissioners for stepping up to the plate and providing extra funding for more deputies and other staff, but arrests are now totaling 2,000 annually and commissioners have reached an impasse. “There aren’t enough resources in the county’s general fund and we need to increase our manpower allocation,” Pierini said. County officials have asked the sheriff’s office to look at ways to generate more money for these services and this effort, which would be patterned after a similar one in Clark County last year, is the only way to generate a fairly steady source of funding for law enforcement, he said. The initiative would cost each resident in Douglas County about $18 a year, or about 50 cents for every $100 in retail sales. It would mean an estimated $5 million in five years for the criminal justice system, enough to cover the needs of the sheriff’s department and provide funding for related services, like the courts, juvenile probation and prosecutors, Pierini said. About 40 percent of the increase would be generated by non-residents, a group responsible for a sizeable percentage of the service calls received, Pierini said. The sheriff’s office has an $11 million budget and Pierini expects the new source of funding to help other departments by slowing the drain on their financial resources. If approved by commissioners, the initiative will be placed on November’s ballot. If voters approve the initiative, a bill draft request will be forwarded to the Legislature, who could approve the tax next year. In other business: — Commissioners will discuss an agreement for a roundabout with Nevada Department of Transportation at the intersection of State Route 88 and County Road in Minden. The Department needs county approval to work outside the boundaries of the State’s right-of-way. — Commissioners could change the county code, allowing six rather than three dogs on one acre. The measure would provide for those involved in the licensing of dog fancier or breeder kennels, dog rescue kennels and pet grooming services. The issue arose after a neighbor complained about herd dog rescuer Kathy Givens, charging she had too many dogs on her Johnson Lane property.

Douglas County sheriff says he’ll seek third term

Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini announced Tuesday he is running for a third term. “The energy I have for this position continues to grow because of the support I continue to receive from the Douglas County residents,” Pierini said in a statement. “Our department is well-managed and I have the very best law enforcement personnel anyone could ask for,” Pierini said. “I am looking forward to serving another four years and I will continue to provide the very best law enforcement services possible.” No one else has entered the race. Pierini, 54, has 30 years experience with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office including eight years as sheriff. He was promoted through the ranks including deputy, lieutenant, captain and undersheriff. Six months ago, Pierini submitted a five-year plan to county commissioners detailing how many additional personnel the department will be needed based on court decisions, calls for service, personnel safety concerns and population. To date, the commissioners have increased the staff by six. He set as a goal an update of the department’s 20-year-old computerized records program and expansion of the 25-year-old jail. “Additional bed space must be planned for,” Pierini said. “During last summer, 115 inmates were being housed in two jail facilities. With the increase of arrestees, the expansion of the jail is vitally important. Plans have started and hopefully, in the near future, construction will begin.” Pierini has adopted a “zero tolerance” policy on gang involvement in Douglas County and strict enforcement of narcotics trafficking laws. He has been involved in youth drug and gang educational programs and provided programs for senior residents to approve the quality of life. He is a member of the Domestic Violence Task force and is active in providing resources to assist victims and prosecute violators. He has received several federal and state grants for technology, training and education for personnel. Pierini earned a bachelor of arts degree in administration of criminal justice from the University of Nevada, Reno. He has an executive certificate from the Nevada Peace Officers’ Standard and Training Commission. He is president of the Nevada Sheriffs’ and Chiefs’ Association and is on the Nevada Peace Officers’ Standard and Training commission.

Helicopter crash victim believed to be Kingsbury Grade resident

A Douglas County pilot, believed to be a Kingsbury Grade resident, died when his helicopter crashed shortly before 8 a.m. Tuesday in a cow pasture on Jubilee Ranch, just east of Foothill Road and South of Muller Lane in Carson Valley, according to Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini. The name has not been released pending notification of family members. Ranch hand Warren Fillmore witnessed the accident. “I heard a loud clanking sound, like metal or something had ripped off,” Fillmore said. “The helicopter came straigh down and exploded when it hit the ground. “It happened so quick, there was nothing to do,” he said. “It was about three to four seconds between the sound and the explosion.” Nothing was left of the aircraft, according to Pierini. The plume of smoke from the wreckage was sometimes punctuated by a small blaze, the only remnants on this quiet morning, as officials stood by. One of the few recognizable pieces was a portion of the tail, which lay about 30 feet from the crash site. Douglas County Sheriff’s Office, East Fork Fire and Paramedic Districts and Minden-Tahoe Airport officials responded to the crash. Local officials will guard the site until investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration arrive, Pierini said. “Our investigators are taking photos of the scene, but the determination concerning the crash will be made by the FAA,” Pierini said. He said airplane crashes occur regularly in Carson Valley. An experimental jet crashed off Foothill Road a couple of years ago and more recently, an experimental plane crashed near Mottsville. “And it’s not all that uncommon to have a glider go down,” Pierini said.

Body found in Minden desert

MINDEN – A body found by a hiker off Johnson Lane in Douglas County on Sunday has yet to be identified, the sheriff said Monday. Sheriff Ron Pierini said a person “walking in the desert,” came across the badly decomposed, but intact body about 2 p.m. and called police by cell phone. Pierini said there was no identification or personal effects found with the body, and it did not appear that animals had disturbed the remains. The remains were found at the southeast end of Johnson Lane in the Pinenut Mountain range. Pierini declined to say whether the remains were those of a man or woman, saying only, “It’s been really warm, and the body is not in very good shape. “I’m not trying to be vague, but there nothing to report right now,” he said. Investigators are reviewing missing persons cases in Douglas County and the surrounding counties. Pierini said he hopes to have an identity by the end of the week.