Missing 22-Year-Old Nevada Woman Found Dead in Las Vegas; Suspect Identified

A young woman missing since late last month was found dead in Las Vegas on Wednesday.

Authorities have identified the main suspect in the alleged kidnapping and killing of 22-year-old Lesly Palacio, who was found deceased by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department investigators, the department said in an updated statement. Moapa Tribal Police and Red Rock Search & Rescue crews also assisted the department in the search. She was found near Valley of Fire State Park in Moapa Valley, which is about 50 miles north of Las Vegas.

Police haven’t disclosed a cause of death at this time and are currently pursuing an arrest warrant on a murder charge for a suspect identified as 25-year-old Erick Michel Rangel-Ibarra, according to the statement.

Rangel-Ibarra was reported as missing on Sept. 1, along with his father, 45-year-old Jose Rangel. Palacio’s family told ABC affiliate KTNV she visited Longhorn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas with Rangel-Ibarra prior to her  Aug. 30 disappearance.

NTD Photo
Erick Michel Rangel-Ibarra, 25 and his father Jose Rangel in a file photo. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)

Investigators said early in the investigation they suspect foul play in her disappearance and the case was on Sept. 3 handed over to a team of homicide detectives.

Surveillance footage obtained by authorities from the night Palacio went missing shows her at the Longhorn hotel’s restaurant dining with an unidentified man, News 3 Las Vegas reported.

According to a GoFundMe fundraiser called “#JusticeForLeslyPalacio,” the Rangel family and Palacios are “longtime” friends.

“We’ve been fighting and fighting for two weeks to find where Eric Rangel & his father, Jose Rangel took our friend Lesly,” a person close to Palacio wrote on the page.

“This family was a longtime friend of theirs and betrayed them by kidnapping Lesly and then taking the life of Lesly Palacio after her story went viral across the world,” it continued.

NTD Photo
Lesly Palacio, 22, in a file photo. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)

Palacio’s sister told KTNV she sent messages with her sister the night of her disappearance but “didn’t reply back for like an hour.”

“I tried calling her and her phone was off,” she told the network. “I find that really weird because she never does that, she always has her phone on.”

Police are asking anyone with information to contact the department at 702-828-3521 or via email at homicide@lvmpd.com. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555 or online at crimestoppesrofnv.com.