In case you missed it, crusading, veteran investigative journalist Jeff German was murdered near his home on Friday. He was stabbed to death following an “altercation” with someone as yet unknown. The up-close-and-personal manner of the crime puts the mind to work and the Las Vegas Review-Journal has published a litany of potential suspects, people and agencies who betrayed the public trust and—in some cases—lost their jobs because of German’s work. I never knew the man. I doubt I ever even spoke to him on the phone. But he was the best at what he did. An attack on German is an attack on everybody who covers Southern Nevada and a message has been sent: Don’t mess with The Man. At least Las Vegas Metro is on the case and the R-J continues to ask questions. Metro says it has a suspect. I hope it’s not some patsy, a convenient meth head thought to have been rummaging through German’s garbage—though it may well have been someone with dirty laundry all right. As R-J Editor Glenn Cook said, “I’m relieved that police have identified a suspect, and I hope an arrest can answer the question we are all asking right now: Why would someone kill Jeff?” I can think of a few reasons.
Said friend George McCabe of German, “If he thought someone was wrong or wronging the little guy, it was part of his DNA to go after it guns blazing.” And that can be a problem in Sin City. Las Vegas is a small town, one where everybody is all up in everybody’s business. Never forget: When then-Rep. Jim Gibbons was accused—credibly accused—of attempted rape, the then-sheriff of Clark County promptly got on the horn to Midnight Jim and told him to “lawyer up.” (This fact has never been in dispute.) That tells you something about the local power establishment.
Someone like German, who wouldn’t stop asking questions until he got his man (up to and including then-Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority CEO Rossi Ralenkotter) could be an inconvenience, at best. Somebody with an axe to grind against German probably came to his house to deliver the ultimate message. And everybody who covers Las Vegas is likely to think twice about following stories to their logical conclusion. No, I don’t think the killer will be brought to justice. The power structure in town will likely close ranks, just like in the days of “the boys” (yes, German tangled with them too) upon which Las Vegans mistakenly think so fondly. But wouldn’t it be nice if justice were done and, for once, the people who have done Sin City wrong slept less well at night?