Las Vegas Sun

July 31, 2014

Currently: 84° — Complete forecast | Log in | Create an account

Store owner charged in killing

The owner of the Spy Craft store in Las Vegas has been arrested and charged with the murder of Ginger Rios, a 20-year-old woman who vanished without a trace in April.

A body believed to be Rios' was found Friday afternoon buried in a shallow grave near Tucson in Pinal County, Ariz.

Detectives believe Rios was killed inside the Spy Craft store on Maryland Parkway on April 4, the day she disappeared, said Sgt. Kevin Manning of Metro Police's homicide unit. Her body was later taken to Pinal County near Tucson and buried, he said.

Craig Leslie Jacobsen, who went by John Joseph Flowers and is owner of the Spy Craft store, was arrested Tuesday in Los Angeles by U.S. Customs agents. Metro Police have since issued a murder warrant.

Jacobsen, 26, was being held today in a medical module at the Los Angeles County Jail. He injured his leg when he jumped out of a second-floor window in Redwood City, Calif., when he eluded U.S. Customs agents, who later arrested him in Los Angeles, Manning said.

Jacobsen was also being held without bail on a probation violation and is awaiting extradition to Tampa, Fla. Customs agents in Phoenix contacted Metro when Jacobsen was arrested, Manning said.

Rios, a Las Vegas native and a dancer and backup singer in a six-member band, the Salsa Machine, was last seen at the Spy Craft store at 3507 Maryland Parkway at 4 p.m. on April 4. Her husband of five months, 34-year-old Mark Hollinger, said while he waited in their car, Ginger ran in to buy a book on how to clean up her credit report. She left her purse behind, but carried her wallet with $200 in it.

It was Jacobsen's wife, whose name has not been released, who came forward last week and led police to the body in the desert, Manning and Sgt. Al Salinas, from Metro's missing persons unit, said today.

Jacobsen told the SUN in April, a few weeks after Rios disappeared, that he was from New Jersey and that he, too, had "vanished." He also said his family hadn't known his whereabouts for several years or even if he was alive.

In the interview, Jacobsen denied any involvement in Rios' disappearance, saying police were harassing him.

All along, Rios' family said they believed she met with foul play inside the shop. Her father and husband sensed something was amiss when they spoke with Jacobsen, they said.

Mark Hollinger, Rios' husband, had gone into the store when his wife didn't come out, but Jacobsen had closed the shop for the day, slamming the door in Hollinger's face, even though it wasn't scheduled to close for another two hours. Jacobsen told the SUN the reason he had closed the store was to prepare to go to Phoenix with his family.

Also, Jacobsen had an elaborate surveillance videotape system in the store and told the woman's father, George Rios, that his daughter was seen on the tape leaving from the front door. He also told the SUN she was captured on the tape, first standing at a book stand, then buying a book at the counter, then exiting the store. But when George Rios and Metro detectives asked to see the tape, Jacobsen said he had accidentally taped over it.

Jacobsen told the SUN that the police were using the incident as an excuse to search his store, which was done at least twice after Rios disappeared.

Jacobsen, referring to Rios as "a kid" and often referring to her in the past tense, told the SUN that she had caused him "problems" and that he hoped she eventually turned up because "she might be on the missing person's list when I'm done with her." When asked what he meant, he said he wasn't serious, just that he was upset that he was being "harassed by the cops, the IRS and the FBI."

"I feel utterly violated over this whole situation," Jacobsen said.

George Rios said his daughter had gone to the Spy Craft store at least once before, about three weeks before her death, but that he didn't know what she had purchased.

Ron Penning, a medical investigator with the Pinal County Medical Examiner's Office, said he was waiting for X-rays and other tests of the body before positively identifying it as that of Rios. Penning noted today that "we have clues and an idea about how she was killed," but that it was unconfirmed.

An employee who answered the phone at the Spy Craft store on Tuesday said the stores were "about to close their doors" because of Jacobsen's arrest. The Spy Craft's main office is in Phoenix with stores in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

One scenario Detective Jeff Rosgen of Metro's missing persons unit was looking at all along was that "she met with foul play while in the Spy Craft store."

Jacobsen had never been ruled out as a suspect, Rosgen said in an earlier interview.

archive