After Kruger slaying, police acted fast to prevent more killings - Omaha.com
Published Friday, September 6, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 11:03 pm
After Kruger slaying, police acted fast to prevent more killings

Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said all the key players in the first-degree murder case against Nikko A. Jenkins are behind bars.

“We don't have any reason to believe the public should be in fear anymore,” Schmaderer said Thursday.

The chief said there could have been more killings had authorities not quickly caught up to Jenkins. When he was arrested last week, Jenkins, a convicted felon with a violent past, had two guns on him.

Jenkins is one of six people who have been arrested in connection with four homicides. He is the only one to be charged with murder. Authorities said all six defendants could face additional charges as the investigation continues.

Schmaderer and Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning declined to specify how authorities connected Jenkins to the slayings of Andrea Kruger, Curtis Bradford, Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz and Juan Uribe-Pena.

However, in an interview with The World-Herald, Dunning said technology helped authorities track Jenkins from shortly after the Kruger killing until Jenkins' arrest. He declined to elaborate.

Still, there were anxious moments as police and sheriff's investigators worked to build their case.

Shortly after authorities began tracking Jenkins, they feared that he was on to them. And at one point, they thought he might have fled to Kansas City, Mo.

“He had gone underground,” Schmaderer said. “We thought he was on the run.”

But Jenkins was still in Omaha. Authorities eventually tracked him to a relative's home, where he was arrested Aug. 29.

High-resolution security cameras also helped solve the case, said Dunning, who previously acknowledged that at least one image of Kruger's stolen sport utility vehicle was captured on a surveillance tape.

“Had this occurred maybe 10 years ago, this might have been a whodunit,” the sheriff he said. “If you can't corroborate what people tell you, it becomes almost meaningless.”

Schmaderer said that before Kruger was killed, police were looking into a connection between the earlier unsolved homicides. Investigators had noted that weapons used in the earlier killings were of the same type.

Cajiga-Ruiz and Uribe-Pena were shot to death Aug. 11 in South Omaha. Bradford was shot and killed Aug. 19 in north Omaha. Kruger was shot to death Aug. 21 in a suburban area of northwest Omaha.

After Kruger was killed, Crime Stoppers began receiving calls about Jenkins, Schmaderer said. Tips about all four homicides started to come in, and authorities began to connect the dots.

Deputies were already aware of Jenkins and the fact that he had been released from prison just before the slayings, Dunning said. “He's kind of a well-known guy.”

Schmaderer said that once authorities zeroed in on Jenkins and began tracking his movements, they knew the clock was ticking.

“He would have killed again,” he said. “We knew it was a race against time.”

Jenkins, 26, had his first court appearance Thursday, where a judge denied bail.

After the hearing, relatives of Kruger and Bradford supported one another and talked about the need for justice.

“It was evil on Earth,” said Michael-Ryan Kruger, Andrea Kruger's husband, who attended Jenkins' hearing. “I needed to at least see him in person.”

Two others arrested in the case, Anthony Wells and Erica Jenkins, also appeared in court Thursday.

The judge set bail at $1 million for Wells, 30, who is charged with being a felon in possession of a weapon.

Erica Jenkins, one of Nikko's sisters, is being held on $350,000 bail in two counts of assault of a confined person, charges that grew out of a jail scuffle.

Erica Jenkins, who is also being held on a criminal mischief warrant out of Sarpy County, shouted at court officials as her bail was being set. “Why you keep (expletive) with my bail?” she hollered.

Douglas County Judge Joseph Caniglia asked her if she wanted a muzzle.

“Do you want a (expletive) muzzle?” Erica Jenkins shot back.

Hands cuffed, she toppled the lectern that inmates stand near during arraignments. A handful of corrections officers pounced on her and ushered her out of the jailhouse courtroom.

World-Herald staff writer Todd Cooper contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: 402-444-3100, maggie.obrien@owh.com

Contact the writer: Maggie O'Brien

maggie.o'brien@owh.com    |   402-444-3100    |  

Maggie is a cops and breaking news reporter for Omaha.com.

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