Before his July 30 release from prison, Nikko Jenkins reportedly had promised his fellow inmates that the world would soon take notice of his exploits.
And he made another promise to them — that he would never return.
Now authorities are trying to determine whether Jenkins, 26, attempted to make good on those boasts.
As The World-Herald first reported Friday, Omaha police and Douglas County sheriff's detectives are investigating whether Jenkins was involved in four killings in August that occurred over a 10-day span:
» The Aug. 21 slaying of Andrea Kruger, 33.
» The Aug. 19 killing of Curtis Bradford, 22.
» The Aug. 11 slayings of Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz, 29, and Juan Uribe-Pena, 26.
Late Thursday afternoon, police surrounded a house near 100th and Birch Streets where Jenkins was hanging out with friends, according to authorities. He emerged from the house and was arrested without incident.
Nikko A. Jenkins
Taken into custody on a separate terroristic threats charge, Jenkins reportedly didn't make any admissions to investigators. And officials have yet to charge him or publicly name him as a suspect in the slayings.
A law enforcement official said authorities are working furiously to gather evidence — searching Jenkins' apartment in the Tudor Heights complex on 108th Street, north of West Maple Road.
Investigators also searched the house near 100th and Birch Streets where he was arrested. They also are running DNA and ballistics tests.
Jenkins' sisters, Erica and Melonie Jenkins, his mother, Lori Jenkins and acquaintance Christine Bordeaux also were taken into custody. Authorities also questioned Jenkins' wife, Chalonda Jenkins.
Omaha police and Douglas County sheriff's deputies were attempting to question them as investigators explore similarities among the killings.
Cajiga-Ruiz and Uribe-Pena were shot in the head while sitting in a pickup truck in Spring Lake Park in South Omaha.
Bradford, a one-time prison friend of Jenkins, was found shot in the head near 18th and Clark Streets in north Omaha, a bullet hole in the back of his hoodie.
Kruger was shot multiple times, including in the head. Her body was found at 168th and Fort Streets in northwest Omaha.
Authorities are performing ballistic tests to determine whether the same weapon was used in the slayings, which account for almost half of the nine homicides in the Omaha area in August.
While details are few on what possibly could connect Jenkins to the Kruger slaying, authorities are exploring a chilling theory on the Bradford shooting: that Jenkins killed Bradford after the duo went out to commit a robbery or burglary together.
Hours before his slaying, a photo had been posted on Facebook of Jenkins and Bradford, arm in arm. Bradford smiled widely. Both men flashed a gang sign.
Jenkins, who turns 27 next month, was released from prison after spending his entire adult life there for two robberies and two assaults.
Court records concerning Jenkins' prison time paint a picture of a young man with a volatile mix of mental illness and violence. At times, his behavior prompted mental health treatment. Other times, it simply landed him in the hole, the segregation unit at prison.
In late July, sheriff's officials were so concerned about his release that they emailed and posted a bulletin at the Douglas County Courthouse.
The bulletin featured Jenkins' photo and urged sheriff's deputies, security staff and officials to be on the lookout for Jenkins because of erratic letters that he had written to two judges in the weeks before his prison release.
Like some of the tattoos that cover his face, many of the letters were indecipherable.
In a July 14 letter to Douglas County District Judge Gary Randall — who sentenced Jenkins for assaulting a corrections officer in 2009 — Jenkins wrote: “Goddess Queens I leave you wealth & Royalty In My Intellects Brilliance. The kingdoms power I protect With Nature of Animalistic Savage Brutality.”
Besides the random contents, the letter was striking because of the way it was written. Jenkins wrote his missive to Randall in a diamond shape. He also attached a picture of a tattoo on his forehead.
Also in July, Jenkins wrote a letter to District Judge Shelly Stratman who, as a deputy Douglas County attorney, had prosecuted Jenkins for assaulting the corrections officer. He wrote some of those sentences in the shape of a circle.
Officials say the letter was mostly incomprehensible. But authorities became concerned because Jenkins called himself a lethal warrior, or something similar.
He closed his letter to Stratman with something to the effect of: “I will see you very soon.”
That had sheriff's deputies on alert to look out for Jenkins. Their task: To keep an eye on him if he ever entered the courthouse.
Jenkins had been under the eye of the state correctional system ever since he committed two robberies at age 15.
In separate crimes in the summer of 2002, the then-15-year-old carjacked one woman and robbed another by hopping into her car and ordering her, at gunpoint, to drive away. Judge Michael Coffey sentenced him to 14 to 15 years on two robbery counts and one weapons count.
On July 4, 2005, Jenkins assaulted an inmate at an Omaha prison for young offenders. For that assault, Judge James Gleason tacked on two years in prison.
On Dec. 17, 2009, Jenkins tried to escape and assaulted a corrections officer while on a furlough to Omaha for a relative's funeral. Randall tacked on two to four years in prison for that offense.
All told, Jenkins' sentences added up to 18 to 21 years in prison. With his release in July, his terms essentially had been cut in half, as many state prison sentences are.
At least one judge had aired concerns about the correctional system's ability to effectively handle Jenkins.
In July 2011, at Jenkins' sentencing for the attack on the corrections officer, Randall wrote: “The court notes that ... the defendant requested treatment for his mental health issues. The record in this case would support the defendant's request ... The defendant has a long and serious history of mental illness which inhibits his ability to be rehabilitated.”
One court official who handled one of Jenkins' cases acknowledged that he was erratic but also questioned whether he was playing up his mental illness.
“He may have some mental illness,” the official said. “But he knows right from wrong.”
Authorities hope to interview Nikko A. Jenkins, 26, about these unsolved homicides:
A patrol officer discovers the bodies of Juan Uribe-Pena, 26, and Jorge C. Cajiga-Ruiz, 29, about 5 a.m. inside a Ford pickup truck parked near the public swimming pool at Spring Lake Park. Both had been shot in the head.
The body of Curtis Bradford, 22, of Omaha is found about 7 a.m. outside a detached garage near 18th and Clark Streets. He was shot in the head. Bradford was planning to study business at ITT Technical Institute. Bradford and Nikko Jenkins met in prison. They posed together for a photo that was posted Aug. 18 on Facebook.
Douglas County sheriff's deputies find the body of Andrea L. Kruger, 33, shortly after 2 a.m. in the street near the intersection of 168th and Fort Streets. She was shot multiple times. Kruger, married and the mother of three, was on her way home from her bartending job near 178th and Pacific Streets. Sheriff Tim Dunning says Kruger was shot sometime between 1:47 a.m., when she closed the bar, and 2:08 a.m., when deputies responded to a call of shots fired. Her 2012 Chevrolet Traverse is located by police about 16 hours later in an alley near 43rd and Charles Streets. Dunning says someone made “a feeble attempt” to set the vehicle on fire.