Detectives followed a trail that traversed the kitchen, then continued across the dining room and through the hallway. The bloody footprints faded noticeably with each step up the staircase. More bloody footprints led to the outside of the garage. These trails would later lead the detectives to hidden evidence.
The rising garage door revealed Jeffrey Preciado’s father, covered in his victim’s blood. Former FBI agent Edward Preciado-Nuño stood over the lifeless body of Kimberly Ann Long. The 31-year-old mother lay in a pool of blood on the cold garage floor. Two bloody claw hammers were on the floor nearby. Staring at the detectives, Preciado-Nuño said, “She hit me with a hammer, so I hit her back.” The smaller hammer allegedly used by Kimberly was found beside her left hand. She was right-handed.
Detectives questioning Preciado-Nuño noted that he gave several different versions of what had transpired. Contrary to his initial claim that Kimberly hit him with a “small hammer,” he later told Detective Tod Williams that he “was able to take the hammer away from her or knock it out of her hand or she dropped it.” At trial, Detective Williams testified that Preciado-Nuño “didn’t talk much about her actually hitting him.”
Kimberly’s close friend, Francesca Velgos, didn’t believe Preciado-Nuño’s claim that Long had attacked him. Kimberly was a nonconfrontational person. “She couldn’t even open a jar of pickles,” Velgos said. “She was a weakling.”
Preciado-Nuño had superficial scratches on his head and hand, while the young mother of his grandson was savagely beaten to death. There were numerous defensive wounds on Kimberly’s hands, wrists, and forearms. Alane Olson, medical examiner at the Clark County Coroner’s office, testified that those wounds were “in a location that you would expect to find them for someone who is trying to fend off blows.” Kimberly had 13 skull fractures — 6 to the back of her head, including a violently executed depressed skull fracture — blunt force trauma to the back of her shoulders, and multiple contusions to the chest, torso, hip, and thigh area. There were shattering impact points at her kneecaps, legs, ankles, arms, wrists, and hands. Medical examiner Olson testified, “It takes a pretty good amount of force to produce a depressed skull fracture.”
Edward Preciado-Nuño explained the severity of Kimberly’s wounds by crudely describing how he’d grabbed Kimberly’s leg to “knock her on her ass.” He told detectives that he “nailed her good.” He slammed Kimberly with a two-handed baseball swing; the claw side of the hammer left parallel lacerations on her cheek. According to medical reports, Kimberly was alive and breathing throughout this merciless bludgeoning, as evidenced by the blood aspiration in her lungs. She was apparently turning away from her murderer, struggling to cover her head with her arms.
Detective Carlos Acosta listened to audio recordings of Preciado-Nuño’s eventual conversation with medical personnel. The tape revealed that, given instructions on how to perform CPR, Edward simply “wasn’t doing it.”
Speaking with law-enforcement officers, Preciado-Nuño repeatedly emphasized his status as a former FBI agent. He’d served in Vietnam as a Marine, worked at the U.S. Postal Service. Later he became a deputy sheriff in San Diego County. After joining the FBI, he served as a special agent in Las Vegas for over a decade. Preciado-Nuño retired from the FBI five years prior to the murder.
Extensive law enforcement experience should have prevented (not excused) the tragedy that left four kids without a mother. After the murder, Preciado-Nuño expressed no remorse about what he had done. To the contrary, he called his murdered victim “a pig” and said that she had “pissed him off.” Much as he did during her life, Preciado-Nuño blamed Kimberly even in death. Tod Williams, detective with the Las Vegas Metro homicide division, testified about his interview with the murder suspect. After pointing out his status as a former FBI agent, Preciado-Nuño trashed his victim. He called Kimberly names and according to the detective “blamed her for his son’s drug abuse, blamed her for his smoking…seemed to blame her for a lot of the things that were happening in that family,” including Jeffrey’s problems with drugs and alcohol. Preciado-Nuño found fault only with his victim.
After the killing, the exhausted Preciado-Nuño reportedly lay down on the floor to rest — he’d pulverized Kimberly’s upper skeletal frame. Then he walked up the stairs, down the stairs, and through the living room. He even ventured outside to hide something in his vehicle. Once he finally made a phone call, it wasn’t to 911 but to his son Jeffrey. Preciado-Nuño claimed he didn’t know whether his cell phone would work to call the police in Nevada, though he had no trouble calling his son’s Las Vegas number from the same phone.
In his statement to detectives, Preciado-Nuño said that the bloody footprints leading to the second floor of the house came from his going upstairs to get his cell phone. This statement is inconsistent with what Jeffrey Preciado said about that morning’s events. Jeffrey told detectives he’d received a phone call from his father during which Preciado-Nuño said that Kimberly was trying to hit him with a hammer. Accordingly, his father must have had the cell phone handy before the murder took place.
Edward Preciado-Nuño had traveled to Las Vegas from San Diego some days earlier, before a planned vacation to Cancún, Mexico, with his wife Lana. He made the stopover at the behest of his son. Jeffrey was at the end of a five-year relationship with Kimberly, and he wanted to evict her from their joint residence. He also wanted to retain sole custody of their ten-month-old baby, Jacob. Jeffrey turned to his father for help. During the preliminary hearing on January 22, 2009, Jeffrey testified that Preciado-Nuño wanted “to put to rest the whole situation.”
Authorities said that Kimberly Long and Jeffrey Preciado had a terrible fight several days before the murder. Jeffrey, who by his own admission had serious substance-abuse problems, was “loaded” while home alone with two kids (nine-year-old Cody and ten-month-old Jacob). Edward Preciado-Nuño called Kimberly’s mother, Carol Heckeler, from San Diego and asked her to get the kids out of the house — he was planning to travel to Nevada the next day. Kimberly came home after working all night and discovered that Jeffrey had locked her out of their house. She dialed 911.