Murder of Rancher Doesn't Appear to be Drug Related, Though Illegal Alien Suspected, Cochise County Sheriff's Office Says

The murder of a prominent rancher near the Arizona/ Mexico border over the weekend has caused politicians and many news outlets to come to the same concussion: An illegal immigrant is to blame.

While a lot of the evidence seems to suggest they're right, the Cochise County Sheriff's Office isn't jumping the gun and officially pinning the slaying on an illegal just yet, but they don't seem to be looking anywhere but Mexico for the killer, either.

Cochise County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Carol Capas tells New Times that there are currently no suspects, no motive, and only a few leads. Those leads, however, point south of the border, Capas says.

As has been reported by many media outlets -- and confirmed to New Times by Capas -- authorities say they found footprints from the scene of the crime that lead 20 miles south to the Mexican border.

The day before the rancher, Robert Krentz, was found murdered, his brother had called police to report that there were people trespassing on the sprawling 35,000-acre ranch. As luck should have it, the eight men were illegal immigrants and had about 200 pounds of weed with them.

The day of the murder, Krentz's brother says he and Krentz were working the ranch with two separate vehicles when he got a call on a hand-held radio from Krentz. All he could make out, he says, were the words "hurt" and "Illegal alien."

Krentz failed to meet his brother at noon on Saturday at a predetermined location on the ranch and he -- as well as his dog -- were found shot to death hours later.

Politicians like John McCain and J.D. Hayworth have publicly called for the Obama administration to beef up security on the border in wake of the murder and the increased violence among drug cartels.

Capas, however, tells us that Krentz's murder doesn't fit the criteria of someone murdered by a drug smuggler.

"There is only one set of footprints," she says. "Historically speaking, if it's drug-related, there are typically several sets of prints."

We asked Capas if there was any physical evidence, such as blood at the scene of the crime, but she declined to comment.

Capas says Mexican authorities have been contacted and that she expects they will cooperate fully with any investigation. She would not say whether authorities are looking for the killer anywhere other than Mexico.