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Home of slain UNLV professor burglarized; suspect detained

Updated January 3, 2024 - 11:45 am

The Las Vegas home of one of three UNLV professors killed during the Dec. 6 on-campus shooting was reportedly burglarized last week after a woman was seen leaving with items and trying to hide her face, according to a police report.

On Dec. 26, at 1:11 p.m., a neighbor of the late Naoko Takemaru reported seeing an unknown female walking out of Takemaru’s house on Deer Haven Court carrying several things, the Metropolitan Police Department case report said.

On Wednesday, police announced that Bianca Hernandez, 30, was arrested as the suspect in the burglary.

When police officers drove to inspect the residence, they observed “several cabinets and medicine cabinets left open” and took photos of the interior, but it was unclear exactly what had been taken, the report said.

The neighbor, whose name was not released, told officers that at about noon that day, while watching her niece play in her front yard, she observed a woman “attempting to cover her face as she walked towards” Takemaru’s home, according to the report.

At about 1 p.m., the neighbor said she saw the same adult female walking out of the professor’s residence “carrying several items with both hands and attempting to hide her face as she passed,” police said in the report.

The neighbor confronted the woman and took photos of her and then the woman ran to South Rollingwood Drive toward a parked vehicle occupied by two males wearing face coverings, the reported stated.

After the fleeing woman entered the vehicle, it drove off, heading south on Rollingwood Drive, police reported.

The neighbor gave police photos of the vehicle, but the numbers on the license plate were too blurred to read, police stated.

The report said that probable cause exists for a charge of residential burglary and that the event remains is under investigation.

On Dec. 6, Takemaru, 69, was shot to death along with two other professors, Patricia Navarro Velez, 39, and Cha-Jan “Jerry” Chang, 64, on the UNLV campus by a gunman, 67-year-old Anthony Polito, a former professor who unsuccessfully applied for jobs at the university.

Polito was shot dead minutes later by university police.

Contact Jeff Burbank at jburbank@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0382. Follow him @JeffBurbank2 on X.

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