UPDATE: Man pleads not guilty to murder charge in 1995 death of Burley girl; family speaks out

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BURLEY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — UPDATE: A Burley man facing a first degree murder charge in the death of a 14-year-old girl in a more than two-decade-old case appeared in court Thursday.

KMVT image of Gilberto Flores Rodriguez during his first appearance in court on a first degree murder charge, Feb. 21, 2019.

Gilberto Rodriguez, 56, of Burley, was arrested for allegedly killing 14-year-old Regina Krieger in 1995.

"I'm feeling a little tingly still. When I first got the news, I got a phone call five minutes after he was arrested. Every hair on my head stood up on my arms," detailed Rhonda Hunnel, Regina's mother.

Hunnel said she searched for many years.

"Twenty-four years has been a long time for me to be searching anything pertaining to this case, so we could get to this point where there’s an actual arrest," she said.

More than two decades after the death, Rodriguez now faces first degree murder charges.

Regina was reported missing in late February of 1995, but then her body was found by the Snake River, east of Rupert in April that year.

Through those numerous years of searching, Hunnel said she called many officials hoping someone could crack the case.

"It wasn't until 2017, a few months before December, that I made another call out to government officials and I received a phone call for the first time ever," she explained.

It was a call from an FBI Agent named Chris, who told her he could help her.

"I believe it’s because of his results and also the help with the Cassia County Sheriff’s new detectives on the case," she said.

According to court documents, her body was found on the bank of the Snake River in Cassia County.

Hunnel said her body was in the river for at least 30 days.

Court documents say she had lacerations to her throat, jugular veins and a stab wound to her chest.

"A lot of people say you don't know what you have until it's gone," said Clifton Krieger, Regina's brother. "That was the situation for me."

He said he was just a few years older than him.

"(It) was three days after my birthday... I just turned 13," he said, referring to when the incident happened.

Krieger said he remembers that day clearly, hearing his father scream and seeing a lot of blood.

"I had to go call everybody. Call the cops, call my mom, call my grandparents. My dad, he was out. just couldn't do anything, he was just in shock," he recalled.

But now, he said Regina's with him all the time.

"I gained her life force and she's with me everywhere I go, and in everything I do," he said.

Hunnel said Regina smiled all the time.

"I think that’s probably the biggest part I miss about her is her smiles. I can see now, smiling just ear to ear just like her mom right now," Hunnel said smiling. "She’s probably very very happy."

Rodriguez's preliminary hearing is March 1 at 9 a.m. He is being held with no bond.

A Burley man facing a first degree murder in the death of a 14-year-old girl in a more than two-decade-old case appeared in court Thursday

Gilberto Flores Rodriguez, 56, pleaded not guilty during his arraignment in a Cassia County courthouse.

Law enforcement arrested Rodriguez Wednesday in a 24-year-old cold case in the death of Burley’s Regina Krieger.

Rodriguez is being held without bond. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 1.

The county prosecutor’s office plans to issue a news release. A KMVT reporter was in the courtroom during the arraignment. Check back for more information.

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