Ballistics had already linked two South Omaha homicides to a north Omaha shooting death when Andrea Kruger died in west Omaha.
Then the Crime Stoppers tips started rolling in, said Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer.
The tips led police to link the deaths of Jorge Cajiga-Ruiz, Juan Uribe-Pena, Curtis Bradford and Kruger. And it led them to a suspect: Nikko A. Jenkins, 26, a robber who was released from a 10 1/2-year prison stint in late July.
“Crime Stoppers played an instrumental role in solving these four homicides, and I suspect there will be Crime Stopper payouts,” Schmaderer said.
And they got confirmation from an unlikely source: Jenkins himself.
During an interview with investigators, Jenkins — who had a history of carjackings, threats and erratic behavior — made incriminating statements about the shooting spree, Schmaderer said.
Jenkins reportedly walked investigators through the slayings, in which the victims were shot in the head.
Schmaderer and other law enforcement officials said Wednesday at a press conference that they are still investigating the case and expect to arrest others soon.
But authorities moved quickly to detain Jenkins last week to prevent more violence as they were gathering evidence for four homicide cases, Schmaderer said.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine charged Jenkins Wednesday with four counts of first-degree murder, weapon use and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Kleine said his office would “likely” seek the death penalty.
Jenkins is accused of shooting Cajiga-Ruiz and Uribe-Pena on Aug. 11 in South Omaha's Spring Lake Park; Bradford on Aug. 19 near 18th and Clark Streets; and Kruger on Aug. 21 near 168th and Fort Streets.
As investigators tried to wrap their minds around the arrest of a second alleged serial killer in four months, one question loomed large over the allegations against Jenkins: Why?
Unlike their case against Dr. Anthony Garcia — in which prosecutors allege Garcia killed former colleagues over his failed career — authorities don't have a clear motive for Jenkins' actions.
“Mr. Nikko Jenkins was an indiscriminate killer who wreaked havoc on the Omaha community,” Schmaderer said. “As to why he did these things, we have no idea.”
Bradford, a friend from prison, appears to be the only victim who knew Jenkins, Schmaderer said.
Kruger's death was as random as any in the Omaha area in recent history. “I can tell you he did not know her previously,” Douglas County Sheriff Tim Dunning said.
Kruger, on her way home from work, happened to pull up behind Jenkins at 168th and Fort Streets.
Jenkins described being at the stop sign when Kruger's SUV pulled up behind him.
Jenkins emerged from his car, circled up to Kruger's driver's-side door, pulled her from the car and shot her in the head, said a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Investigators are still trying to piece together who else was involved in that slaying.
Someone helped Jenkins drive his car and Kruger's car away from the slayings. Kruger's SUV was found about 16 hours later at 43rd and Charles Streets.
Jenkins' sisters, Erica and Melonie Jenkins, his mother, Lori, and friend, Christine S. Bordeaux, were arrested in the wake of the slayings and booked on other charges.
Police also announced another related arrest Wednesday: Anthony L. Wells, 30, who was booked Saturday on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He is alleged to have provided a weapon to Jenkins.
The World-Herald has learned the following details:
Of his four victims, Jenkins knew Bradford well; the two met in prison while Bradford served a term for burglary.
On Aug. 19, the two went out to commit a burglary or robbery together. Later that morning, a homeowner found Bradford dead — shot in the head.
On Aug. 11, someone associated with Jenkins, or perhaps Jenkins himself, met Cajiga-Ruiz and Uribe-Pena at Tquila, a nightclub near 30th and L Streets.
Detectives were investigating whether Jenkins' associates had lured Cajiga-Ruiz and Uribe-Pena to Spring Lake Park on the pretense of prostitution or the promise of a sex act.
The two men were shot in the head in their pickup truck.
After those two killings, Omaha police began to look at the similarities in the ammunition used.
On Aug. 20, detectives apparently scoured area hunting stores, looking for anyone who had purchased the kind of ammunition used in the slayings of Cajiga-Ruiz and Uribe-Pena.
Surveillance videotape showed a woman — authorities allege in a federal indictment that it was Bordeaux — buying two boxes of Brenneke Classic Magnum 12-gauge ammunition, commonly known to hunters as “deer slugs,” at Canfield's Sporting Goods, 8457 West Center Road.
The next morning, someone shot Kruger at the corner of 168th and Fort Streets. Ballistic tests are being performed on that ammunition, Kleine said. Schmaderer credited the work of detectives from several agencies — including the Sheriff's Office, Omaha Police Department and the FBI — for the arrest. “He was a rare killer,” Schmaderer said. “It's very rare to cross racial lines. He would have continued this spree had law enforcement not put an end to it.”
World-Herald staff writer Kevin Cole contributed to this report.