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Murder suspects in custody on $1 million bail

One of the two suspects arrested last month in connection to the murder of a Silver Peak man who was found at the bottom of a well following his July disappearance, appeared in court this week on a charge of first-degree murder.

Coleman Ward, 42, appeared in Goldfield Justice Court Tuesday morning for an arraignment hearing in the case.

His co-defendant, Jason Taaffe, 33, reportedly had his arraignment waived by his attorney.

Ward’s court appointed defense council Christopher Arabia said following the hearing this week a preliminary hearing was set for Jan. 17.

Ward was first taken into custody on Dec. 21 after Taaffe allegedly admitted the day before to shooting and killing Charles Kinkel the night of July 24, 2013 after he claimed he saw the man attempting to molest a 10-year-old girl.

Kinkel was first reported missing after his wife, Trayce, placed a wake-up call to her husband at 5:55 a.m. July 25 and received no answer. After he failed to show up for work that day the woman called the Esmeralda County Sheriff’s Office to notify them of his disappearance.

Kinkel’s body was reportedly found on Dec. 15 with a gunshot wound to his head by two people collecting firewood near Silver Peak.

According to a declaration of arrest obtained by the Pahrump Valley Times, Taaffe said he and Coleman conspired to “take Charles hunting” in the desert as revenge for what he had allegedly tried to do.

“Jason said he took a pistol and 7.62 Mosin Nagant rifle with Coleman and Charles in Coleman’s pickup and went into the hills south of Silver Peak to a place he was unfamiliar with that had three old buildings and a covered well,” the report states. “Jason told me (the investigator) that he walked around for a couple of hours with Coleman urging him to just do it until Jason shot Charlie in the head.”

Taaffe then allegedly told police they dumped Kinkel’s body down a well before returning to Silver Peak with Kinkel’s wallet and keys.

The police report states Taaffe said Ward then drove Kinkel’s truck to Blair Junction where Taaffe picked him up to return to Silver Peak. Taaffe reportedly added that Coleman threw Kinkel’s keys and wallet out near a construction site.

Although Taaffe allegedly admitted to conspiring with Ward to kill Kinkel, Ward has denied any involvement in the man’s death.

According to his arrest report, Ward told police after the men returned home from the bar that evening he went to bed while Taaffe and Kinkel stayed up. He said Kinkel was still alive when he left them and that he was not aware of anything that occurred after that.

As of Thursday morning both Ward and Taaffe remained in custody in Esmeralda County on $1 million bail each.

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