A man has been found guilty of murdering a teenage girl 26 years after her body washed up on the banks of a river in Idaho.
Gilberto Flores Rodriguez, 58, was convicted by a Cassia County Jury on Tuesday of the premeditated murder of 14-year-old Regina Krieger, who went missing in her Burley home in 1995.
Police and a local cold-case group released the news on Facebook, saying, “The Cassia County jury is in! Gilberto Rodriguez is GUILTY of first-degree murder in the 1995 murder of 14-year-old Regina Krieger! Sentencing 8/26.
“Congratulations to prosecutors, the FBI, detectives and everyone else who made it possible,” the report read.
It’s been a long time for Regina’s family and friends. Embrace and remember this beautiful soul. ‘
The prosecution and Rhonda Hunnel, the victim’s mother, declined to comment on the verdict until after the sentencing, which is due on August 26. Rodriguez faces the death penalty or life imprisonment.
Gilberto Flores Rodriguez, 58, has been found guilty of murdering a teenage girl 26 years after her body washed up on the banks of an Idaho river
Regina Krieger, 14, went missing in the basement of her father’s Burley house in 1995, just two days before her 15th birthday
Krieger went missing in the basement of her father’s house on February 27, 1995, just two days before her 15th birthday.
A large amount of blood was discovered in the basement, but Krieger could not be located.
Her decomposing body was found by riders on the banks of the Snake River on April 15 of that year in a section of the river where water had receded near the Montgomery Bridge east of Rupert.
Krieger’s throat had been slit and her heart had been stabbed. An autopsy showed that her body had been in the water for at least 30 days.
It wasn’t until February 2019 that police arrested and charged Rodriguez, also from Burley, with the murder of Krieger.
Three witnesses told investigators that Rodriguez killed Krieger, threw her body in the river, and then buried a knife in a box, Magicvalley.com reported on his arrest.
Police and a local cold-case group released the news of Rodriguez’s conviction on Facebook
It wasn’t until February 2019 that police arrested Rodriguez, also from Burley, and charged with the murder of Krieger
A then-confidential witness told officials they were with Rodriguez the night Krieger was murdered in her home.
The witness said that Rodriguez entered the girl’s house and came out about half an hour later and drove to the front of the house.
Later he came out with something wrapped in a blanket.
The witness alleged that Krieger’s body had been placed in the trunk of the car and taken to a bridge by the Minidoka Dam.
The witness was present when Krieger’s body was thrown across the bridge, still wrapped in the blanket.
Speaking after the news of Rodriguez’s arrest, Krieger’s mother related Idado Statesman that she had waited a long time in her search for answers to the case.
She said, “I knew we were getting closer and I was fully aware it was going to happen.
‘My arousal level is very high. I couldn’t be happier. ‘
‘I still feel a little tingly. When I first got the news, I got a call five minutes after he was arrested. All the hairs on my head were on my arms. ‘
She added, “Twenty-four years has taken me a long time to investigate anything related to this case, so we could get to the point where an actual arrest is taking place.”
Another witness in the case claimed they were at a party when Rodriguez appeared upset and covered in blood.
The first witness told the third witness that they had just killed Regina, court records said.
Police reportedly made mistakes in handling the case, former Cassia County sheriff Randy Kidd said in 2015.
A witness said that Rodriguez entered the girl’s house (pictured) and came out about half an hour later and drove to the front of the house. Later he came out with something wrapped in a blanket
Rodriguez’s attorney Keith Roark told the jury during the closing arguments this week that the murder case was based on the testimony of ‘liars’
Investigators did not initially consider Krieger’s death a murder, but instead believed that she ran away or took her own life.
He said the people Regina had become involved with were drug dealers who used children to deliver drugs.
Rodriguez’s criminal history in Cassia County dates back to the 1990s and includes several drug charges.
In 2015, he pleaded guilty to a felony by providing false information to an officer.
In 1996, he was charged with felony, unlawful carrying of a concealed weapon and a felony battery in separate incidents.
He also had a felony drink-driving conviction from 1994 onwards.
Several other charges have been dismissed or pleaded, according to online court records.
Rodriguez’s attorney Keith Roark told the jury during the closing arguments this week that the murder case was based on the testimony of “ liars, ” and asked the jurors “ what story to believe after state witnesses made inconsistent statements to the police.’
Roark said one of the state’s top witnesses, inmate Cody Thompson, said he was 16 years old and Rodriguez 32 years old when Rodriguez asked him to help dispose of Krieger’s body.
Thompson reportedly said he told lies to the police, changed his story and committed perjury in court in another case, which Roark used to claim the state had presented “ a lot of lies through jail time. ”
Cassia County prosecutor McCord Larsen said Thompson was a teenager when the murder took place, had no good experiences with law enforcement, and was intimidated and fearful of Rodriguez.
During the closing arguments, Larsen asked the judges to “use their common sense and judgment to find out who is telling the truth.”
Roark also pointed to mistakes police made over the years, including DNA evidence collected from Krieger’s body, which was tested and compared to Rodriguez’s in the past, but did not match.
He also noted that heavy objects that hit her and a knife used to cause some of her injuries were never found.
“The only real physical evidence they have doesn’t burden this man, it relieves him,” Roark said.
The attorney also pointed out aspects of the case that remain unknown, including who Krieger had been with the day she went missing, whether there was anyone else in the house when the murder took place, and whether she had unlocked the back door to get the killer in. to let. House, Magicvalley.com reported.
“Nobody was interested in that, the police did not investigate those possibilities,” he said.