A Southeast Idaho man could be facing the death penalty after he was arrested for the 1995 murder of a 14-year-old girl.
The Cassia County Sheriff’s Office said Gilberto Flores Rodriguez, 56, of Burley, was arrested on Wednesday afternoon and charged with first-degree murder for killing Regina Krieger.
Krieger’s death is a well-known Idaho cold case that has long baffled authorities.
She disappeared from the basement of her father’s Burley home on Feb. 28, 1995, just days before her 15th birthday. A large amount of blood was found in the basement, but Krieger couldn’t be located.
That changed on April 15 of that same year when horseback riders found Krieger’s decomposed body in a portion of the Snake River where the water had receded near the Montgomery Bridge east of Rupert.
Krieger’s throat had been slashed and she had been stabbed in the heart. An autopsy showed her body had been in the river for at least 30 days.
She is buried in Pleasant View Cemetery in Burley.
Police made mistakes in their handling of the case, former Cassia County Sheriff Randy Kidd said in 2015. Investigators initially did not consider Krieger’s death a murder, but thought she ran away or committed suicide.Growing up in Burley, Regina’s younger brother Cliff heard talk about what may have happened to his sister.
“Everyone talks in a small town,” he said.
The people Regina had become involved with were drug dealers who were using children to deliver drugs, Cliff said.
The night she went missing she had a conversation with their father telling him she wanted to move back to Twin Falls to live with her mother because she was uncomfortable with a situation she had gotten into and wanted out of it, Cliff said.
“What she didn’t know was there wasn’t any way out,” Cliff added.The Krieger case went cold until 2017 when Boise-based FBI Special Agent Chris Sheehan said he and another investigator had been assigned to the case.
“There is new evidence that has come out,” Sheehan said in 2017, declining to give details.Rodriguez was taken into custody without incident in Minidoka County on Wednesday afternoon and was transported to the Mini-Cassia Criminal Justice Center in Burley, where he is being held on a no-bond warrant issued by Cassia County Magistrate Court.If convicted of first-degree murder Rodriguez could face the death penalty. Prosecutors haven’t yet commented on whether they’re going to pursue capital punishment in the case. If they don’t, Rodriguez will face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
In an attempt to draw attention to Regina’s death, East Idaho Cold Cases has continuously posted information about her murder in recent years.
Crystal Douglas is the founder of East Idaho Cold Cases, a non-profit group aimed at finding missing people and raising public awareness of unsolved murders.
In response to Rodriguez’s arrest, Douglas said, “I’m very happy for the (Krieger) family. They waited 24 years for this.”
Regina’s murder was one of the cases featured in a deck of playing cards issued by East Idaho Cold Cases. Every card included in the deck includes the face of an Idaho missing person or unsolved murder victim along with a description of their case.
Douglas said Rodriguez’s arrest will help the families of other cold case murder victims feel that closure is possible.
“It gives other families hope,” Douglas said.