LAS VEGAS - Metro Police's cold case homicide team has solved another case: This time it was a 13-year old murder of an elderly Las Vegas widow.
The murder was profiled back in August by the 8 News NOW I-Team, and the media exposure generated tips that helped detectives figure out where the killer could be found.
An unmarked grave in the back of a local cemetery is, in a horrible sense, appropriate enough given the person who's buried in it.
"Strangulation was the cause of death," one of the detectives said.
Back in August, metro cold case homicide detectives Ken Hefner and Dean O'Kelley told the I-Team about new evidence obtained in the December 2005 murder of 83-year-old Dorothy Sargent.
An intruder attacked the widow and grandmother as she sat knitting in the house on Isabelle Avenue where she'd lived for 40 years. The attacker sexually assaulted her as well, leaving a DNA sample that years later would help solve the case.
Police could not find a match for the DNA in online databases, but at the urging of crime lab technicians, Hefner and O'Kelley resubmitted the sample earlier this year using a more advanced test, and that's when they got a solid hit. However, the suspect was something of a mystery man.
He had "multiple names, multiple AKAs, and dates of birth and social security numbers," said Hefner in an interview with the I-Team.
The D.A.'s office issued an arrest warrant for career criminal Dino Marks, also known to police as Nicky Guy. Marks had several distinctive tattoos on his body, and by putting that information out to the public, detectives hoped to jog the memory of someone in the audience. And that is what happened. A female caller contacted the cold case team.
"She told me she had caught the tail end of a media story where she saw the photograph of Dino Marks and recognized the photo as who she called her husband, a man she'd been with for 7 years.
Two years after Dorothy Sargent's murder, a man using the name Nicky Tene moved in with a Las Vegas woman and her two daughters and he never left. It didn't take police long to confirm that Nicky Tene and Dino Marks were the same people even down to the same tattoos.
"We were able to see the photos, and there's some handwriting that we were able to compare between the two and it's quite obvious they are the same person," said O'Kelley.
But there is no chance marks can be arrested. His common-law wife reported that he died of a heart attack in 2014 at UMC hospital. And although the name assigned to the unmarked grave is Nicky Tene, police are not confident of his true identity or birthdate.
The cold case team was glad to resolve the case on behalf of Dorothy Sargent and her son, but they also wish they could have confronted the killer while he was alive.
"It would have been nice to have a face-to-face conversation with him if nothing else just to tell him how despicable we think he was," said Hefner.
Detectives say Marks is believed to have been part of the local Roma community, and that during his life had been able to obtain false birth certificates and other bogus identity papers.
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