Published by The Bee News

October 22, 2022

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On Wednesday (10/19), the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in reference to a murder that had occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada on October 17th, 2022. During the course of the investigation, LVMPD Detectives had identified the suspect in the murder as Hunter McGuire, 26 of Kingman. McGuire’s girlfriend, identified as Samantha Branek, 32 of Kingman, was observed on video as pawning evidence of the murder the same day. McGuire and Branek were known to be in Branek’s vehicle, a silver Hyundai bearing Arizona registration K8A1B2A.

An arrest warrant for murder was issued out of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department for both McGuire and Branek reference the murder that had occurred in Las Vegas, Nevada, on October 17th. Detectives received information that McGuire had been hiding in Las Vegas due to being sought by law enforcement for a double murder in Kingman, Arizona, involving the “Gold Lady” and her male companion that occurred on June 28, 2022. Video surveillance and photographs obtained of McGuire had similarities in relationship to video surveillance recovered in the murder of Retta Atkins and Darren VanHouten in the 9200 block of Dilligaf Rd. in Kingman.

On Wednesday (10/19) at approximately 1:44 PM, Deputies with the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office responded to a residence in the area of S. Centennial Rd. and W. Geronimo Dr. in Golden Valley in reference to a possible Homicide. Upon arrival, Deputies observed a male subject, later identified as Martin Eric Nelson Jr., 35 of Kingman, deceased behind a vehicle. Nelson had an obvious gunshot wound to the head and had succumbed to his injuries. There were no other subjects found on the property. Detectives responded to the scene and assumed the investigation.

While on scene, a male subject walked up from the remote desert area. The subject, identified as Timothy Wayne Burt, 42 of Kingman, had initially stated that he was present during the death of Nelson and had fled into the desert where he had been hiding for the past twelve hours. Burt stated that he and Nelson had come to the property around 2:00 AM to pick up a trailer that was allegedly stolen from him. Burt said that when they had arrived on the property they were confronted by Hunter McGuire, who began shooting a firearm at them. Burt had initially denied having a firearm on him, however later admitted to having a firearm and returning fire towards McGuire. Burt had also initially stated that he did not have a phone to call for help, however later stated that he did and admitted to calling a girlfriend to pick him up from the scene. Burt stated that he had tossed his firearm somewhere in a wash. Burt’s story changed many times and he was ultimately booked into the Mohave County Adult Detention Facility for Hindering Prosecution, a class 5 felony, with additional charges pending.

A search warrant was executed on the Golden Valley property, which was known to be occupied by Hunter McGuire and Samantha Branek. During the execution of the search warrant, evidence was recovered that was related to the murder of Retta Atkins and Darren VanHouten in June 2022.

On Thursday (10/20), Samantha Branek and a second female, identified as Brittany Conkling, 23 of Kingman, were observed in the above listed vehicle at a truck stop in Yucca, Arizona. The two females were seen buying a large amount of sandwiches and water. The vehicle was then identified as leaving the property and heading into the remote desert area east of Yucca.

On Friday (10/21) at approximately 12:37 PM, Detectives located Samantha Branek’s vehicle traveling on Alamo Rd. from Interstate 40 in Yucca. A deputy in a marked patrol unit came up on the vehicle, at which time the vehicle accelerated to speeds over 80 MPH before the deputy had an opportunity to activate their emergency lights. The vehicle was pursued for approximately 35 miles, where it slid off the road and became disabled. Three subjects then ran from the vehicle into the remote desert area that was heavy populated with trees and brush.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) helicopter arrived on scene and was able to provide the suspect’s location to ground units. The male, later identified as Hunter McGuire, was carrying a rifle as the trio ran into the desert. McGuire and one of the females, later identified as Samantha Branek, attempted to conceal themselves underneath a large tree. The third occupant, later identified as Brittany Conkling, hid in a separate location, and later surrendered to law enforcement without incident.

After approximately four hours of negotiations and air surveillance with no response, the Lake Havasu City Police Department SWAT team located McGuire and Branek and found them lying beside each other deceased. McGuire had a rifle laying on his chest. McGuire and Branek each had a single gunshot wound to the head, McGuire’s being self-inflicted. It is unknown if McGuire shot Branek, or if she had shot herself. McGuire was also observed wearing a wig when located. The Mohave County Medical Examiner’s Office responded to the scene and will be conducting an investigation for an official cause of death. There was additional evidence recovered from this scene that was related to the murder of Retta Atkins and Darren VanHouten.

Conkling admitted to knowing McGuire was wanted for murder and admitted to aiding him. Conkling also attempted to conceal evidence after running from the vehicle. It was later learned that the trio had stocked up with food and water and had been camping out in the remote desert area. Conkling was booked into the Mohave County Adult Detention Facility for Hindering Prosecution, a class 5 felony.

No shots were fired by law enforcement during the apprehension. The apprehension was a collaborative effort with assistance from the MAGNET, Arizona Department of Public Safety, Kingman Police Department, Lake Havasu City Police Department, Bullhead City Police Department, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Las Vegas FBI Criminal Apprehension Team, and the dispatch centers of each agency.

Hunter McGuire is a suspect in additional murder investigations which are still ongoing. At this time, no additional information is available as some of these investigations are still ongoing.

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