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.
While the police were on their way, the situation became violent, leaving Kimberly with bruises all over her body. Neither party was taken into custody, but after that night Kimberly told friends and family that she was afraid to go home. She thought about making a formal domestic-violence complaint and planned to move out of the house with the children. When asked if she’d “threatened to call the police and show them bruises,” Jeffrey Preciado said, “Oh, yes. She was holding it over my head all week.” Kimberly may have used the tactic to prevent further violence.
Unlike Kimberly, who protected Jeffrey by not making a police report, Jeffrey went in to file a complaint against her. “My father made me do it,” he later testified. Father and son were hoping that making a police report would support claims against Kim in the anticipated custody battle. While Jeffrey Preciado was at work, his father went to the constable’s office to start the eviction process. Jeffrey described the game plan: “I would basically break up with her and have her move out of the house and I move back in with my son.”
According to court documents and police reports, Jeffrey and Edward Preciado planned to secretly videotape and audiotape their confrontation with Kimberly, using equipment concealed in the couple’s garage. Father and son hoped she would say something incriminating. This “evidence” would be used to portray her as a bad mother in the custody dispute. Meanwhile, Preciado-Nuño rented Jeffrey a room at the South Point Hotel. When Kimberly finished her shift at 4:00 a.m. and came home, Jeffrey wasn’t there. She and Jeffrey exchanged telephone calls.
Jeffrey Preciado later testified: “I finally speak to her and she’s wondering where I’m at. I’m kind of being evasive. I don’t want her to know that I’m at the South Point…I keep brushing her off and saying I will be home soon.” At the same time, his father was insisting that he stay at the hotel. Jeffrey said: “It’s better if I’m not there. If there is nobody to arrest, I can’t be arrested.”
Edward Preciado-Nuño moved on with the plan of confronting Kimberly. He hid papers beneath his clothes and threatened Kimberly with their content. She wanted to read the documents, but he wouldn’t let her. Preciado-Nuño admitted “taunting her” and “telling her lies,” hoping to provoke an outburst, but Kimberly did not give in to Preciado-Nuño’s bullying.
Later, bloody footsteps led detectives to the camcorder hidden in the trunk of Preciado-Nuño’s car and to an audio recorder concealed in the bedroom of Kimberly’s ten-year-old son.
This was the equipment originally set up in the garage to document the confrontation with Kimberly. If she’d picked up a hammer and attacked Preciado-Nuño, he would have rushed to the police with that kind of evidence. But according to his own statements, Preciado-Nuño — a seasoned FBI agent and a former Marine — easily disarmed Kimberly. At that point he could have left the garage and called the police. Instead, he beat her to death with a claw hammer, then ran around in an apparent attempt to hide the video recorder.
Most defendants in similar scenarios would be denied bail. But Preciado-Nuño is awaiting trial at home, having posted a modest $250,000 bond, as ordered by Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Eric Goodman.
Edward Preciado-Nuño is a brother of Oscar Preciado — former port director for the San Ysidro Port of Entry (the largest and busiest land border crossing in the United States). Oscar Preciado now works as a special project manager for the Department of Homeland Security’s Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. After Edward Preciado-Nuño murdered Kimberly Long, Oscar Preciado traveled to Las Vegas in a show of support for his brother. Both were born in Tijuana, Mexico, and moved to San Diego as children when their family immigrated to the United States.
The possibility of Preciado-Nuño utilizing his brother’s access to the U.S.-Mexico border did not stop the court from releasing the accused murderer from house arrest and allowing him to travel to San Diego on two occasions — once for almost one month, “to get his house and affairs in order,” and more recently on April 11, 2010, to attend the wedding of his daughter. Edward Preciado-Nuño was photographed partying at the Abbey in Uptown San Diego.
Such leniency is especially unusual in light of the gruesome nature of the charges against Preciado-Nuño. Still unsatisfied, he and his attorneys have filed motions to modify the conditions of his release and free him from the restrictions of house arrest, touting his background as an FBI Agent and his alleged ties to the Las Vegas community. To date all motions have been denied.
After Preciado-Nuño moved from Las Vegas to San Diego, he lost touch with old friends, who were shocked to read about his arrest. During his 25-year tenure with the FBI’s Las Vegas field office, Preciado-Nuño served within the organized crime division. Preciado’s former attorney, Richard Wright, stated, “He has former FBI agents that support him and have been friends during the various court proceedings, and they will help him again.” According to FBI spokesman Darrell Foxworth, Edward Preciado-Nuño retired from the bureau in 2003. He has been married to Lana Preciado for 40 years and has two adult children and three grandchildren.
During the first bail hearing in this case, Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Abbi Silver said she “smelled a rat” when she looked over the paperwork. “There are some really weird facts in this case,” Silver said. “It doesn’t make sense, though, [for] the facts as I read them, especially with a retired FBI agent, to turn out like this.”
Deputy District Attorney Giancarlo Pesci said, “I don’t argue with the fact that he was in the police and the FBI. I don’t argue with the fact that he doesn’t have a prior criminal history. But we can’t get away from the crime we’re actually looking at. We can’t get away from the brutal, brutal killing that this was and a self-admitted person who flies off the handle.”
Edward Preciado-Nuño is prohibited by law from seeing his grandson, Jacob Preciado. Custody of the baby was granted to Jeffrey Preciado in spite of admitted issues with drug and alcohol abuse, including a DUI and stints in rehab. Jeffrey Preciado’s Facebook profile photo shows him with Jacob — a beautiful child with sad eyes.
Jacob and Kimberly’s ten-year-old son Cody were both in the house when their mother was murdered. When Kimberly’s parents sat Cody down to explain that his mom was never coming home, the little boy interrupted, “Did Ed kill Mommy?” After receiving the worst news any child could ever hear, Cody cried out and dropped his head to his knees. Kimberly’s family and loved ones never got a chance to say goodbye to her body, not even at the funeral. Edward Preciado-Nuño had destroyed her head and torso to the point where an open casket was out of the question.
Preciado-Nuño’s trial was originally scheduled for July 28, 2009, but has been delayed three times. According to court documents, the latest delay was caused by Preciado’s inability to get along with his own attorney. The court granted his Motion to Substitute Counsel on April 28, 2010, admonishing him to get along with new counsel Thomas F. Pitaro, who replaced Richard A. Wright. Further delay caused by Preciado-Nuño may send him straight to prison. Preciado-Nuño remains under house arrest in Las Vegas until his trial, now set for December 6, 2010.
The lead prosecutor in this matter, David J. Roger, is the 22nd district attorney to serve Clark County. His cases have made national headlines. Roger prosecuted Rick Tabish and Sandra Murphy in the highly publicized Ted Binion murder trial in the spring of 2000 (the convictions were overturned by the Nevada Supreme Court in 2003). David Roger also prosecuted O.J. Simpson in the Las Vegas robbery case, winning a conviction on all counts.
Media requests have been granted, and cameras will be allowed in the courtroom. ■
— Julia Davis