After nearly four years, a suspect was arrested in the March 2015 killing of a homeless man whose body was dumped and set on fire about 50 miles west of Las Vegas.
Anthony Lee Eiermann, 35, was arrested Tuesday on a murder charge in Delroy Tetenda Ashton’s death.
Ashton was found on the night of March 5, 2015, in a turnout on Sandy Valley Road about 1.6 miles south of state Route 160. The 23-year-old’s body had been bound by parachute cord, doused with an accelerant and set on fire, Eiermann’s arrest report said.
Near his body were tire tracks, tissues and pieces of plastic spattered with bloodstains, the report shows. The Metropolitan Police Department also collected DNA under Ashton’s fingernails and requested that all DNA evidence found on his body be run through CODIS, a DNA system used by law enforcement to link violent crimes.
An autopsy conducted the next day revealed that, with a lethal level of methamphetamine in his body, Ashton had fractures to three ribs and his left leg and had suffered other blunt force injuries to his head, neck, torso and extremities.
But the Clark County coroner’s office could not determine how or why he died.
“Although the circumstances in which his body was found suggest foul play, the conclusion of homicide cannot be drawn at this time,” detectives wrote in the report. “Consequently, the manner of death is undetermined.”
The coroner’s office told police that the case could be reviewed “should further investigation reveal additional information,” but Ashton’s cause and manner of death were still ruled undetermined as of Thursday.
In the days after the autopsy, detectives interviewed Ashton’s friends and learned that he had been staying in a vacant apartment near Rainbow Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue. The apartment caught fire around the same time of Ashton’s death, and his friend told police he believed it was an attempt to “cover up evidence.”
It remained unclear Thursday where police believe Ashton was killed. Eiermann’s report did not elaborate on a possible homicide scene, but, according to the Clark County Fire Department, the fire started when carpet from the living room had been rolled up and set ablaze in a fireplace inside the apartment.
By the time detectives had learned of the fire, the apartment had been cleaned and boarded up. All that was left in the unit was loose paperwork identifying the previous tenant.
The woman told police that she wasn’t home at the time of the fire but that her boyfriend, whom she identified as Eiermann, had told her “a rug had gotten into the fireplace, which caused the damage,” the report said.
Eiermann’s name wouldn’t resurface in the case until Jan. 19, 2016, according to the report. The DNA found under Ashton’s fingernails was a match for Eiermann, the report said, prompting detectives to swab the suspect’s mouth for more DNA testing.
By then, Eiermann was being held at the Clark County Detention Center on an unrelated charge. Court records show he was in custody on charges of burglary, attempted theft, conspiracy to commit burglary and attempted fraudulent use or sale of personal identification information in connection with a November 2015 case.
While collecting the additional sample, detectives showed Eiermann a photo of Ashton and asked why Eiermann’s DNA would be found under Ashton’s fingernails. But Eiermann said nothing, according to the report, and then asked for an attorney.
In March 2016, results came back from the additional DNA testing. Again, Eiermann’s DNA was a match for the forensic evidence found on Ashton’s body.
The DNA report said: “The probability of randomly selecting an unrelated individual from the general population having a DNA profile that is consistent with the deduced DNA profile obtained from the evidence sample is approximately 1 in 12.3 quintillion.”
Details of Eiermann’s arrest were not available, but a status check is scheduled for Friday morning, jail records show. He remained held without bail Thursday at the county jail.