NEVADA – After four years of freedom, Robert Paul Eikelberger is back behind bars, facing open murder charges in the killing of Sierra Ceccarelli, 29, in December 2016.
Eikelberger was detained Thursday afternoon by Reno Police officers after a grand jury indicted him for open murder on Wednesday.
In February 2018, he was arrested for the first time on one count of open murder in connection with Ceccarelli’s death. Eikelberger’s case was transferred to the Lyon County District Attorney’s Office after five days in the Washoe County jail owing to a conflict of interest involving Washoe County district attorney Chris Hicks. Hicks’ extended family knows Eikelberger’s family, according to News 4.
The Lyon County District Attorney’s Office was not ready to press charges at the time, allowing Eikelberger to be freed from jail just five days after being charged with open murder.
After years of quiet from the Lyon County District Attorney’s Office, authorities finally referred the case to an Oregon reconstruction specialist to determine if Sierra Ceccarelli, 29, shot herself or was murdered by someone else.
The murder occurred on the night of
On the night of December 9, 2016, police rushed to Eikelberger’s south Reno house on the complaint of a lady who had just killed herself. When authorities reached the house, Eikelberger told them there was a woman inside who needed “serious help,” according to court documents acquired by News 4. Police found Ceccarelli dead on the couch. According to court filings, an officer discovered a revolver on Ceccarelli’s right thigh, with the ejection port facing down and the barrel pointed away from the victim. Police took the rifle from her lap to save her life and discovered Ceccarelli was “cool to the touch.” According to court filings, Eikelberger told police he was watching a crime show in his living room when he heard a gunshot. He alleges he hurried outside and screamed for help after discovering the victim on his couch. According to the documents, Eikelberger claimed police he didn’t know Ceccarelli and didn’t invite her to his house.
Soon after, Eikelberger recognized Ceccarelli as a female prostitute he knew as “Diane.” Eikelberger told authorities during a taped interview with the Reno Police Department that he was dating many women at the time, one of whom was named “Diane.” The description of “Diane” given to authorities by Eikelberger did not match Ceccarelli’s description. According to court documents, Eikelberger rapidly shifted the subject and inquired about the victim’s whereabouts because he had not heard any gunshots in his home.
Eikelberger requested that cops transport him to his father’s home in Reno. Police secured a search warrant and discovered many pieces of evidence, including multiple weapons, which were given over to the Washoe County Forensics Division.
Documents show that officers met with Eikelberger at his father’s residence, where he invoked his right to a counsel and refused to be interviewed about what happened at his house.
A Reno Police detective went to the business in south Reno after discovering a Walmart receipt while searching for evidence. According to records, video showed Eikelberger and Ceccarelli in the store together hours before she was killed.
Police obtained a new search warrant to gather Eikelberger’s clothing, a DNA sample, and probable evidence from his hands using a gunshot residue kit.
According to papers, an autopsy was performed days later and revealed that the woman was shot in the left eye and the bullet stuck in the back of her skull near the brainstem. Because Ceccarelli’s eyelid was intact, the Medical Examiner’s Office believes she was shot while her eye was open. The doctor performing the autopsy determined that the bullet’s course was downward.
Officers later visited with the victim’s mother at her Minden home. Sierra’s mother stated she got images and text messages from Eikelberger threatening her with a pistol a month before. According to court filings, Ceccarelli told her mother that Eikelberger took a revolver from his center console, held it to her head, and blamed her for his divorce.
Officers spoke with Eikelberger’s ex-wife, who had filed a restraining order against him years before after threatening their young girls with a pocket knife for not brushing their teeth. According to court documents, Eikelberger threatened to kill his ex-wife when she told him she was thinking about moving to Nebraska with their children.
Detectives visited with the ex-wife again, and she told them that Eikelberger threatened to murder her several times before their divorce.
Reno Police believed there was probable cause to charge Eikelberger on one count of murder after months of gathering new evidence, phone logs, and other information.
Eikelberger was detained on Feb. 23, 2018, more than a year after the murder.
Credits: Fox Reno
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