Arizona Sheriff: A Person Of Interest In Krentz Murder Is Local

October 31, 2013
Arizona Farming & Ranching Hall of Fame, Michelle Roles/AP via NPR
Robert Krentz was killed on his 35,000-acre ranch north of Douglas, Ariz. in 2010.

BISBEE, Ariz. — A law enforcement official in Arizona has identified a new person of interest in the 2010 murder of a prominent rancher along the United States-Mexico border.

Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels says the person of interest in connection with the murder of Robert Krentz is a resident of Cochise County.

"He’s a local from our area," Dannels said. "He lives here in the county."

Krentz, a longtime rancher, was found murdered on his property. Professional trackers trailed the killer’s footprints to the Mexican border. The murder led to pressure on the Obama administration to secure the border region.

Within a month, Gov. Jan Brewer signed the controversial SB 1070 immigration bill into law.

Speculation that the murderer was from Mexico led to renewed calls for the National Guard to patrol the border.

Dannels won’t give many details about the person of interest. His name is Manuel Corona, and all that’s known about him is that his 21-year old son, also named Manuel Corona, has had violent encounters with law enforcement.

Some of those details emerged in the Krentz investigative file that was obtained by the Fronteras Desk.

In August, Corona’s son was arrested after a car he was riding in allegedly rammed a police car in Sierra Vista. It was Dannels' son, a police officer, who was rammed in the police car. In September, Corona's son was arrested again in connection with a triple shooting in the small town of Elfrida.

The Cochise County Sheriff's Office hasn’t revealed much in the Krentz murder case, which is now nearly four years old.

Cochise County Sheriff's Office
Investigators look at the bullet holes found in Robert Krentz's Polaris vehicle after he was found murdered in 2010.

"The case hasn’t gone cold," Dannels said. "We’re working with the Krentz family. They’re aware of this and we will do our part to bring justice to this case.”

Dannels has had experience with lengthy, ongoing cases. Before returning to Arizona, he served as chief of police in Coquille, Ore., where his department solved a 10-year-old murder case.

In 2011, investigators identified a drug smuggler, Alejandro Chavez Vasquez, as another person of interest in the Krentz murder. That man, they believe, disappeared into Mexico.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been modified to reflect that Manuel Corona Jr. was a passenger in the car that rammed a police car in Sierra Vista in August.

Updated 10/31/2013 at 11:12 p.m.