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When authorities found slain rancher Robert Krentz this spring, he was lying next to his all-terrain vehicle, his wounded dog Blue in the back.
The ATV was still running, and Blue, who was shot during the attack on Krentz, was still trying to defend him, according to the Cochise County Sheriff’s Office’s homicide investigative file.

The file sheds no new light on what happened to Krentz, who was killed March 27 as he worked on his ranch in southern Arizona, near the Chiricahua Mountains. The file was released in response to a public records request by The Arizona Republic, as well as a letter by the paper’s lawyer, demanding that the office make the public documents available for inspection.

The file was heavily redacted, with all details about evidence blacked out. But it does offer a more detailed timeline of events that day.

According to the file, Krentz radioed his brother around 10 a.m. to say that he was with an immigrant who needed help. That was the last time anyone heard from the 58-year-old cowboy.

At 6:45 p.m., his wife phoned authorities, who began a search. Krentz’s body was spotted by a Department of Public Safety helicopter shortly before midnight.

Though authorities made no arrests and have no suspects, Krentz’s slaying was instantly attributed to drug smugglers, and his death became Exhibit A in a nationwide political furor over border violence and security.

Repercussions were felt almost immediately from Phoenix, where lawmakers approved a controversial new immigration bill, to Washington, D.C., where politicians cited the slaying in their calls for increased border security.

By Dennis Wagner for USA Today.

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