Crime - Sacto 911

Guilty plea closes decade-old El Dorado County slaying

A 10-year-old El Dorado County homicide case came to a close last week when Eric Mehlmauer pleaded guilty to killing 48-year-old Tobias Kaiser at a home they shared in Fair Play.

Mehlmauer, 48, pleaded guilty Friday to voluntary manslaughter and admitted to using a firearm in commission of the crime, according to an El Dorado County District Attorney’s Office news release. After hearing victim impact statements from Kaiser’s family, El Dorado Superior Court Judge Kenneth Melikian sentenced Mehlmauer to 10 years in state prison.

On Nov. 30, 2006, Mehlmauer shot and killed Kaiser at a rental home they shared. The shooting occurred over the theft of personal property. There was bad blood between the two men, stemming from an illegal marijuana cultivation scheme that failed to produce expected profits, authorities said.

After killing Kaiser, Mehlmauer and several accomplices put Kaiser’s body inside a metal tank, welded the tank shut and buried it on the rental property. Then they destroyed evidence of the killing, going as far as to replace floor tiles and wallboard in the room where the shooting took place.

After not hearing from Kaiser for several days, his family reported him missing. The missing-person investigation soon turned into a homicide investigation when a confidential witness and other evidence came to light, officials said. But the investigation stalled because investigators were unable to find Kaiser’s body, any additional cooperative witnesses or evidence of the crime.

The case was deemed a “cold case” in 2014 and reassigned to the El Dorado County Cold Case Task Force. The unit – made up of investigators and attorneys from the District Attorney’s Office, a forensic scientist from the state Department of Justice and detectives from the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Office and South Lake Tahoe Police Department – developed additional leads, witnesses and evidence that led to the arrest of Mehlmauer and an accomplice Jan. 15, 2015.

On March 27, 2015, the task force recovered Kaiser’s body.

Ronald Anthony Garcia of Sacramento also was arrested in January 2015 as an alleged accomplice in the case. Authorities alleged that he knew of the crime but concealed the information to help Mehlmauer avoid arrest. He previously pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy and was to have been sentenced after Mehlmauer’s trial.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy