Douglas County, Nevada, authorities search property of murder victim Kenneth Pestana |

Douglas County, Nevada, authorities search property of murder victim Kenneth Pestana

An evidence technician demonstrates ground penetrating radar.
Kurt Hildebrand/Record Courier

Nevada state authorities say they’re searching for a buried body at the Gardnerville home of murder victim Kenneth Pestana, who was killed last year at his Nevada City property.

A Carson City inmate said a body might be buried at the Gardnerville home, leading authorities on Wednesday to bring ground-penetrating radar to the scene. A neighbor told the Record-Courier that he saw an inmate showing officials around the property.

Douglas County Undersheriff Paul Howell said the search will take a handful of days to find and recover any human remains that might be present, the Record-Courier reports.

Pestana, 61, left Gardnerville several years ago. Authorities said he lived at a home on Highway 20 when on June 7, 2017, Joseph Ward slashed his throat. Pestana’s body was found hours later. Authorities arrested Ward, 32, the next day in Carson City.

Ward in recorded jail calls claimed that bodies were buried at Pestana’s Nevada City property. He also said Pestana had a machine that produced smoke and made bodies disappear.

Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal said his office in October searched Pestana’s Highway 20 property. Deputies found no signs of buried bodies.

A jury in May found Ward competent to stand trial, and a second jury this month convicted him of second-degree murder. Facing 15 years to life in prison, Ward is scheduled Oct. 2 for sentencing in Truckee.

— Record-Courier Staff Writer Kurt Hildebrand contributed to this report.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email or call 530-477-4239.