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Wife of Nellis airman arrested in husband’s death

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Metro Police arrested Corry Hawkins, Jessica Austin and Michael Rodriguez in connection with the death of Nellis airman Nathan Paet.

Updated Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010 | 4:07 p.m.

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Michelle Paet

Arrests in Nellis Airman's Death

Corry A. Hawkins
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A picture of Nathan Paet is displayed Tuesday afternoon at a memorial service held at Nellis chapel. Paet was shot and killed Dec. 1 outside of his home as he was preparing to go to work.

The wife of a Nellis airman who was shot to death Dec. 1 was arrested Thursday in connection with his murder, Metro Police said.

Michelle Paet, 29, was booked into the Clark County Detention Center on Thursday afternoon. She is the fourth person arrested in connection with the death of Staff Sgt. Nathan Paet.

Michelle Paet was being held without bail on suspicion of murder with a deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit burglary. Police said Paet is under suicide watch. Authorities released her driver's license photo late Thursday afternoon.

Michael Rudolph Rodriguez, 31; Corry A. Hawkins, 33; and Jessica Austin, 23 were arrested earlier this week in Nathan Paet's death.

According to arrest reports released Thursday, Michelle Paet allegedly confessed to helping plan her husband's murder with Rodriguez because they wanted to pursue a romantic relationship.

Police determined from military officials that Michelle Paet would receive $400,000 upon the death of her husband. She claimed she would receive an additional $250,000 from another life insurance policy on her husband, according to the arrest reports.

"She admitted she and Rodriguez were romantically involved and planned to develop a relationship together after the murder of her husband," police wrote in an arrest report. "She and Rodriguez began talking about 'getting rid of' Nathan Paet for the insurance money as early as October 2010."

Authorities received a 911 call at 11:31 p.m. Dec. 1 reporting a man was shot at his home in the 9200 block of Alta Monte Court, near Mountain's Edge Parkway and Durango Drive in the southwest Las Vegas Valley. Nathan Paet was taken to University Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

Homicide detectives said Paet opened his garage door Wednesday night and was preparing to drive to work. But after hearing several gunshots, then suffering gunshot wounds, he went back inside his home before collapsing.

Detectives believed Paet was targeted because of the trajectory of bullets found at the scene.

When first questioned by police, Michelle Paet admitted to flirting with other men at her workplace, telemarketing firm EIN Credit Inc. She described one of those men as Rodriguez, who she had been text messaging prior to her husband's murder, the arrest reports allege.

"Sorry took my meds and was asleep. My husband just woke me up and he's trying to rush out the door. I guess he's late lol," reads one text message.

The second text message — "Can't go back to sleep right now. Got woken up from a man screaming I'm late. He's rushing to get out the door. Lol" — was sent about five or six minutes before the shooting, according to the arrest reports.

The arrest reports state detectives believed the suspects knew Nathan Paet's schedule and were possibly waiting across the street by two vacant homes.

When contacted by police, Rodriguez claimed he was "having sex with an ex-porn star" during the time of Nathan Paet's murder, according to the arrest reports. The reports allege the woman, who police have not identified, gave authorities the following version of events:

She said there was an ongoing plan to kill Nathan Paet that involved Rodriguez, Hawkins, Austin and Michelle Paet. The unidentified woman expected to receive 5 percent of the few thousand dollars Rodriguez was to earn for the murder, according to the report.

On the night of the murder, the woman said she, Austin, Hawkins and Rodriguez were at Austin and Hawkins' apartment in the 2500 block of N. Green Valley Parkway in Henderson. Rodriguez and Hawkins then allegedly left to commit a robbery using Rodriguez's black Cadillac.

Meanwhile, Austin lit a fire in the apartment and the men burned their clothes when they returned.

Police said the unidentified woman went back to Austin and Hawkins' apartment the next day, where she noticed the smell of bleach. Rodriguez and Hawkins then destroyed their cell phones, along with the woman's, and told her to lie to police, the report says.

The woman told police Rodriguez allegedly admitted shooting Nathan Paet, and Hawkins admitted to being at the scene. Police said records and video surveillance from Sunset Station show Rodriguez and the woman checked in 40 minutes after the murder.

Police executed search warrants at Austin and Hawkins' apartment, at which point Austin allegedly told police she bought blue latex gloves and an air freshener at Walmart before the murder. She also allegedly told police Rodriguez burned his clothes in the fireplace.

Hawkins, Austin and Rodriguez are being held at the Clark County Detention Center without bail.

According to court records, Hawkins and Rodriguez have prior criminal records.

Hawkins was sentenced for burglary and possession of a stolen vehicle in 1995, attempted grand larceny in 1996, robbery with use of a deadly weapon in 2000 and fraudulent use of a credit card or number of a credit account in 2006.

Rodriguez was sentenced for attempted forgery in 2007 and attempted theft in 2008.

Paet, originally from Guam, was an F-15 supply section technician assigned to the 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. He joined the Air Force in 2002 and had been stationed at Nellis Air Force Base since November 2007.

He and Michelle Paet had four children.

Sun reporter Rich Coleman contributed to this report.

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