The sister of Juan Carlos Tellez said Wednesday she doesn't believe her brother had anything to do with the disappearance of Bertha Anguiano.
"I think he's innocent," Susana Tellez-Granado, 41, through a Spanish-speaking interpreter from her Salt Lake City home. "All the time, he's been very calm. I don't know what's happening."
Tellez, 36, is suspected by police as having information on Anguiano's whereabouts. The 33-year-old mother has been missing since Nov. 10 when her 3-year-old son was found bloodied and abandoned behind a Dayton grocery store.
The boy allegedly told police he saw Tellez hit his mother with a shovel and put her in the back of a truck. He said she was dead.
A forensic test of the blood on the toddler's clothing revealed it belonged to a female related to the child.
Tellez is being held in the Salt Lake City Jail after he allegedly pulled a weapon Nov. 21 on officers there who approached him to talk about Anguiano.
Tellez-Granado said her brother, whose real name is Israel, learned about Anguiano's disappearance when another brother saw it on television.
"He was surprised. He didn't know what happened," she said. "He was returning to Carson City to find out what happened."
Investigators have said Tellez and Anguiano were engaged in an extramarital affair, but Tellez-Granado said she didn't think that was true because he'd brought a different girl there only two weeks prior.
"(Tellez and Anguiano) were friends. He said that she had a little store there and he talked to her. He's very talkative. He has many friendships," she said.
The woman who Tellez allegedly brought to Salt Lake prior to Anguiano's disappearance has told police Tellez beat her in Wendover when the two were returning to Nevada.
Tellez-Granado was stunned by that accusation.
"Oh, no," she said.
She said Tellez arrived in Salt Lake City about a week before he was arrested, saying he came to visit because he was out of work. He stayed a few days with her and a few days with their brother.
"He said he needed to leave quickly because he needed money. He didn't have much money with him," she said.
That's partly the reason she believes he has nothing to do with the disappearance, she said. When Anguiano went missing, she had $3,700 from the family's video store to be deposited in the bank.
Instead, Tellez-Granado thinks the married mother of three ran off to Mexico with the money. "He thinks that also," she said.
Tellez will appear in a Salt Lake Court today to set a date for a preliminary hearing on two counts of aggravated assault, possession of a dangerous weapon, and carrying a concealed weapon. He is being held on $200,000 bail.
During two interviews with Carson City police about Anguiano, Tellez denied knowing where she is.
Tellez-Granado said her brother is a good person.
"He has always been respectful toward me and the rest of the family," she said. "When he stays with me he doesn't drink, he doesn't come in late."
Because she has no vehicle, Tellez-Granado said she's been unable to visit her younger brother in jail and hasn't had a chance to ask him his side.
"You never know what's going on with other members of your family," she said. "You don't know what's going on when they leave the house."
Contact F.T. Norton at email@example.com or at 881-1213.