Two men and a woman were arrested Tuesday night in last week's shooting of a Nellis airman in a murder plot police say was motivated by money and involved the airman's wife.
Michael Rodriguez, 31, Corry Hawkins, 33, and Jessica Austin, 23, were arrested on charges of murder with a deadly weapon and other felony charges related to the Dec. 1 death of Staff Sgt. Nathan Paet, a 28-year-old Iraq War veteran who was killed while leaving his southwest valley home to go to work.
Las Vegas police Sgt. Russ Shoemaker said Rodriguez established a relationship with Paet's wife, Michelle, through mutual employment, but did not say where the two met.
"It is very fair to say that this was not a random event," Shoemaker said. "This was allegedly planned some time in advance."
Shoemaker said Michelle Paet had not been arrested or charged as of Wednesday morning. He could not comment on her involvement or status in the investigation, although he said additional arrests are expected.
"The investigation is ongoing," he said. "It's a tangled web."
A police source said Michelle Paet probably will be arrested in her husband's death.
Michelle Paet reportedly stood to receive a substantial amount of money from her husband's military benefit plan, possibly in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
She also would have received free health care and financial support for the rest of her life.
Shoemaker said Rodriguez, Hawkins and Austin were all involved in planning the crime. Police believe Hawkins and Rodriguez were present at the shooting, which occurred about 11:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at 9263 Alta Monte Court, a two-story home purchased by the couple in August 2009.
Austin is accused of concealing evidence after the shooting.
Police said Paet opened his garage door and was preparing to drive to work when he was shot multiple times.
Police said robbery was not a factor in the slaying and that the airman appeared to have been targeted.
Paet made it back inside the home before collapsing. Police said Michelle Paet was home at the time of the shooting, as were their four children.
Hawkins and Rodriguez each have a criminal history in Las Vegas.
According to Clark County court records, Hawkins pleaded guilty to burglary in 1995, attempted grand larceny in 1996, robbery with use of a deadly weapon in 2000 and credit card fraud in 2006.
Rodriguez pleaded guilty to attempted theft in 2006 and again in 2008.
Nathan Paet was born in 1982 in Tamuning, Guam. After graduating from high school he joined the Air Force in April 2002.
At Nellis Air Force Base, he was the inbound floor supervisor for the 99th Logistics Readiness Squadron. This year he became the assistant non-commissioned officer-in-charge for the Strike Aircraft Maintenance Supply section of the 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
At a memorial service at Nellis on Tuesday, friends and family expressed sorrow and disbelief.
His brother, Eric Paet, remembered him for his "love and support."
"I don't know, and I can't imagine, anybody who wouldn't want to be his friend," Eric Paet said.
"He loved to live. He loved to boogie board. He loved to tinker with me. ... Nate loved to show his family out here in the states his life in Guam."
Senior Airman Monika Radcliff fought back tears as she described her friend and co-worker.
"He was humble. He wouldn't ask you to do anything he wouldn't do himself."
Radcliff said Paet inspired her to be a better airman.
"He showed us how to do it by example," she said.
Paet married Michelle Paet, his high school sweetheart, in February 2006.
Michelle Paet, who was questioned by police Tuesday afternoon, did not attend her slain husband's memorial service.
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at email@example.com or 702-383-0283.