Retired officer allegedly killed by boyfriend
CARSON CITY – A murder warrant was issued Wednesday for a Virginia City Highlands man suspected of killing his live-in girlfriend, who was a retired San Francisco police officer.
The criminal complaint charging Gary Duane Brown, 52, with first-degree murder was signed at 4:30 p.m. by a Storey County judge.
Investigators believe Brown shot and killed Linda Ziegler, 51, then fled the area.
Deputies were called to the couple’s Silverado Drive home on Tuesday about 1 p.m. after receiving a phone call from someone telling them to check on the woman, said Lt. Mike Allen of the Nevada Department of Public Safety Investigation Division. She was discovered dead with a gunshot wound to the head, according to court documents.
Allen declined to reveal why police believe Brown is the shooter, but said, “We’ve developed enough information for the issuance of an arrest warrant.”
Brown is described as 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 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.
Reports indicate Brown was in the Reno area Tuesday.
Storey County deputies patrolled the mountain neighborhood Wednesday, frequently passing by the gray two-story home sealed with evidence tape on its windows and doors.
A horse and donkey were in a pen in the rear yard, and guinea pigs, turtles and other pets were inside the well-kept home.
Storey County Chief Deputy Roger Hartley said Ziegler’s sister was coming from the Bay Area to tend to her things.
According to court documents, the relationship between Ziegler and Brown had been tumultuous.
Two years ago, Ziegler was allegedly held at gunpoint by Brown, her live-in boyfriend, at the same home where her body was found Tuesday.
On Dec. 6, 2002, Storey County deputies were called to a neighbor’s home on Silverado Road in the Virginia City Highlands at 8:21 p.m. for a report of a domestic dispute.
There they met with Ziegler, who said Brown was at the couple’s home at 1965 Silverado Road.
She said that Brown began to argue with her, yanked her from bed and ripped a necklace from her neck. When she was on the ground, Ziegler said, Brown banged her head against the floor.
As Ziegler tried to leave, Brown allegedly pulled a rifle from the closet, checked to see if it was loaded, then pointed it at her head and chest. Ziegler’s clothing was torn, she had scrapes on her elbows, a bruise to her forehead and a bump on the back of her head.
“Ziegler stated that Brown would not let her leave and then Brown told Ziegler that he was going to shoot her, then himself,” according to the arrest report.
Ziegler told police she was able to escape when Brown went into the garage to get bullets for the rifle, the report states.
About 9:30 p.m., Brown contacted Storey County dispatchers to ask if police were aware of the situation. He remained in his home until 10:21 p.m., when he surrendered at the urging of a dispatcher, according to the report.
Brown was booked into the Storey County Jail on one count of felony assault with a deadly weapon, domestic violence and resisting and obstructing peace officer. On Dec. 7, with help of a relative in California, Brown posted a $50,000 bail.
On Dec. 18, 2002, Deputy District Attorney Sharon Claasen filed a criminal complaint against Brown, charging him with assault with a deadly weapon, domestic battery and resisting. In the complaint, Claasen alleged Brown committed the offenses “by repeatedly grabbing the victim and throwing her to the floor, slamming her head against the floor, dragging her across the floor when she attempted to flee and then repeatedly thrusting a rifle against her chest area while she lay on the floor.”
On Feb. 27, 2003, per plea negotiations, District Attorney Harold Swafford moved to dismiss the felony charge, stating “there is not sufficient evidence to prove this case.”
The same day, Brown pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor domestic battery. He was sentenced to one year probation, $315 in fines, 48 hours in jail, 48 hours community service and domestic violence counseling.
On March 27, 2003, Brown paid his fines in full. On April 1, 2003, he had completed his jail hours.
On Oct. 21, 2003, the case against Brown was closed.
“Completion of domestic violence counseling received,” the court docket states.
Calls placed to Swafford’s Virginia City office were not immediately returned Wednesday.
Information sought: Anyone with information on Ziegler’s death or the whereabouts of Brown is asked to contact Lt. Mike Allen at the Nevada Department of Public Safety’s Investigation Division at (775) 684-7430.