Entries in Las Vegas (40)


Olympic Runner Suzy Favor Hamilton Worked as Escort in Vegas

Andy Lyons/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- Former U.S. Olympian and decorated middle-distance runner Suzy Favor Hamilton said Thursday that she had worked as a high-paid escort in Las Vegas for the past year.

In a story first reported by The Smoking Gun, Favor Hamilton, 44, said that she worked as an escort under the alias "Kelly Lundy" with Haley Heston Private Collection escort service based in Vegas.

According to the website advertising her services that was saved by The Smoking Gun, Favor Hamilton offered appointments to johns in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. She advertised her price as $600 for one hour or $1,400 for three hours.

Favor Hamilton, who lives with her husband and 7-year-old daughter in Madison, Wis., makes frequent public appearances to discuss running, including motivational speeches and had a spot in a Nike ad.

She told The Smoking Gun that her husband, Mark, 44, knew about her escort activities and did not approve.

"He tried, he tried to get me to stop. He wasn't supportive of this at all," she told them.

After the report was published Thursday morning, Favor Hamilton took to her Twitter account to apologize publicly.

"I was drawn to escorting in large part because it provided many coping mechanisms for me when I was going through a very challenging time with my marriage and my life. It provided an escape from a life that I was struggling in. It was a double life," she wrote.

"I cannot emphasize enough how sorry I am to anyone I have hurt as a result of my actions and greatly appreciate the support from family and those closest to me. I fully intend to make amends and get back to being a good mother, wife, daughter and friend."

Favor Hamilton wrote on Twitter that she was going through depression when she decided to become an escort and used it as a means of escape, and that she is currently seeing a psychologist.

In an email to ABC News, Favor Hamilton wrote that her Twitter statements were her only comment on the story, but did add, "Trying my best to get better."

The phone number for Haley Heston Private Collection, listed as the contact information on Favor Hamilton's escort profile, was answered by a woman who said, "This is Haley." She declined to comment on The Smoking Gun story and said she could not confirm the details in The Smoking Gun's report.

Favor Hamilton competed in the 1992, 1996 and 2000 Olympics, without medaling in any of the races. She did win seven National Track & Field Championships, including three outdoor 1,500 meters, and was a nine-time NCAA champion while an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Las Vegas Firefighter Accused in Murder-for-Hire Plot

ABC News(LAS VEGAS) -- Prosecutors in Las Vegas are seeking an indictment against a Las Vegas City firefighter and West Point graduate who they say paid a homeless man to beat his wife to death in her home in late September.

When police found Shauna Tiaffay, a Las Vegas cocktail waitress and mother, brutally murdered in her own home on Sept. 29, it seemed like a random crime.  But today, prosecutors are saying her husband, George Tiaffay, was the mastermind behind the gruesome attack.  They have accused George Tiaffay of offering Noel Stevens, a homeless man, $20,000 to beat his bride to death.

"I felt that the minute I heard that the way that she had died, that he [George Tiaffay] had something to do with it," Shauna Tiaffay's friend, Claudia Carrillo, told ABC News.

Carrillo and Stephanie Vargas, two of Shauna's best friends, are now breaking their silence, saying that they believe George Tiaffay was a verbally abusive husband.

"He was known for being controlling with her and I think this is a case of him trying to control her," Carrillo said.

Vargas agrees that George Tiaffay was very possessive of Shauna.

"[He was] one of those -- if I can't have her, nobody else can," Vargas said.

Police say the evidence speaks for itself, and that the details of the alleged murder plot read like a crime novel.

Investigators say George Tiaffay was in constant contact with Stevens, calling him 86 times in September.  The two even exchanged phone calls in the moments before police believe Shauna was murdered.

Police also say they obtained surveillance video of the two men walking out of a hardware store together after purchasing a hammer, gloves and knife.

On Monday, Stevens' attorney refused to comment.  But George Tiaffay's lawyer issued a statement on behalf of his family.

"George did not commit the crimes he is charged with," he said in the statement.  "While all marriages have their ups and downs, George and Shauna were both committed to each other, and especially their daughter."

But Shauna's friends are still not convinced that George had nothing to with her death.

"To become a fireman and help people, how is it that you want to save lives but you take a life?" Carrillo said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Law Students Charged with Decapitating Exotic Bird at Vegas Casino

Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept.(LAS VEGAS) -- Two University of California-Berkeley students are accused of decapitating an exotic 14-year-old bird at the Flamingo Hotel and Casino’s wildlife habitat in Las Vegas.

Eric Cuellar and Justin Teixeira, both 24, were captured on surveillance video Friday morning chasing the helmeted guinea fowl into some trees and then emerging carrying its severed body, according to a statement from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department.

The two men, who said they are law students at the school, then laughed about the killing and threw the body of the bird, witnesses told police.

They were booked into the Clark County Detention Center and face felony charges of conspiracy and the willful and malicious torture or killing of wildlife.

The Flamingo’s Wildlife Habitat is home to hundreds of animals, including swans, ducks, turtles and of course, flamingos.

It was not clear whether Cuellar and Teixeira had hired an attorney.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Melissa Duran: Burned Car Led Police to Abducted Nevada Teen

ABC News(LAS VEGAS) -- Authorities are investigating whether two men who are accused of kidnapping a Nevada teen and demanding a ransom have ties to the family's landscaping business.

A burned car found near Sunrise Mountain was traced to an address at a Las Vegas apartment complex, where authorities served a search warrant early Saturday morning, police said.

Melissa Duran, 17, was found by members of the SWAT team bound and blindfolded. The teen was shaken up but unharmed, police said.

Alejandro Manuel Sanchez-Sanchez, 25, of Las Vegas, and Cesar Sanchez, 30, were arrested in separate apartments at the complex and were booked into the Henderson Detention Center on charges of kidnapping, extortion, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and conspiracy to commit extortion charges.

"We are thankful that the quick and effective actions of the Henderson Police Department were able to reunite Melissa safely with her family," Police Chief Patrick Moers said in a news release. "I would also like to praise the strength of the Duran family for assisting us throughout this horrible event."

Duran's family told ABC News' Las Vegas affiliate the two suspects had worked for the teen's father's landscaping business at one time but were laid off.

On Friday, Duran answered the door at 7:30 a.m. in Henderson when two men grabbed her and sped off in their red two-door car with a blue fender on the front passenger side, according to the Amber Alert.

A neighbor's surveillance video captured the car speeding away.

The captors then called Duran's parents twice to demand ransom.

Nevada police previously issued an Amber Alert and searched beyond Nevada in case she was taken across state lines to Southern California, Northern Arizona or Southern Utah.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


CJ the Chimp Escapes Into Neighborhood Again

ABC News(LAS VEGAS, Nev.) -- A pet chimpanzee escaped from her enclosure for the second time in a month, prompting officials to remove her from her Las Vegas neighborhood home.

Animal Control officers used tranquilizer darts to sedate CJ the chimp, but they didn't return her to her owners. First, she was transported to a zoo, and then another private citizen offered to keep CJ in a cage designed for large cats, like lions or tigers, according to ABC Las Vegas affiliate KNTV.

"This looks like we're complete idiots," Timmi DeRosa, who owns the chimp, told KTNV. "Like how the hell could the other chimp get out?"

The first time CJ escaped her enclosure was in July, when she and fellow adult chimp Buddy roamed the neighborhood, banging on cars and terrorizing neighbors. When Buddy tried to leave the police perimeter and walk into a crowd of onlookers, Sgt. Andrew Legrow shot and killed him, according to a Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department press release. Legrow has been on the force for 27 years.

One 911 caller told police, "They are wandering down the street. They are dangerous. Bring shotguns. They are wild animals."

This time, officers knew what to do, and although CJ pulled out the tranquilizer dart, she walked into a vacant home with her handler and fell asleep without incident, according to KTNV.

DeRosa said she suspects someone else may have opened the cage because July's incident prompted a political discussion about banning exotic animals as pets.

"We have gotten calls that people want to let CJ out so they can pass the law in Las Vegas, and I just hope to God that nobody tampered with the cage," DeRosa told KTNV.

A county commissioner altered their policy on exotic animal ownership on Aug. 7, adding a requirement to renew permits for wild animals, and include regular inspections of animal enclosures and better neighbor notification, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. They also require that the property owner own the animal. DeRosa owns CJ, but the chimp was kept in an enclosure on property owned by Sheri and David Potochan.

Nevada state Sen. Michael Roberson (R-Las Vegas) is also drafting a statewide ban on exotic animals, according to KTNV.

Even before the escape this weekend, plans were already in the works to move CJ to a sanctuary in Oregon as a result of the July escape.

"Everything was planned," DeRosa told KTNV. "She was going to have her going away party."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


One Chimp Dead, One Tranquilized After Escaping Las Vegas Home

Tom Brakefield/Stockbyte (file photo)(LAS VEGAS) -- Two powerful, adult chimpanzees escaped a Las Vegas backyard and rampaged through a neighborhood on Thursday, leaping over backyard walls and pounding on cars before police killed one of the chimps and tranquilized the other.

The Las Vegas neighborhood came to a standstill Thursday morning when two chimps, each standing more than 5 feet tall and weighing more than 150 pounds, broke free from their backyard cage and began to run wild.

The female chimp, Calamity Jane, was subdued with two tranquilizers.  The male chimp, Buddy, was shot by a police officer after he charged the cop.  No other people were hurt during the ordeal.

Miguel Guiterrez, caretaker of the two chimps, was there when Buddy was killed and says he would have taken the bullet.

"I started screaming at Buddy, 'Get back, get back!  They're gonna shoot you.'  I wanted to go right with him," he said, adding, "He was like a of my best friends."

"It's crazy.  I don't know why they would shoot," David Plunkett, a friend of the chimpanzees' owners said to ABC News affiliate KTNV-TV.  "They didn't have to shoot the chimp.  It wasn't harming anybody.  It came out into the street, so they shot it."

A spokesperson for the Las Vegas Metro Police Department told KTNV that the officer who shot Buddy said he believed the chimpanzee needed to be stopped before he crossed Ann Road into a neighborhood filled with a crowd gathered to see what was going on.

The chimps escaped shortly before 10 a.m. and were on the loose for about 30 minutes.  Another one of the chimps' caretakers blamed a loose hinge on the door of the cage.  The caretakers believe the two chimps repeatedly kicked the concrete wall until the door came loose.

Today, Calamity Jane is back in her cage, missing her partner, while the caretakers are missing a member of their family.

"I am tragically sad about Buddy.  He was my baby," said DeRosa.  "I loved him so much.  I love him more than anything, but I know he's in a better place."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Las Vegas Massacre Suspect Sexually Assaulted 3 People, Cops Say

Thinkstock/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- Las Vegas cops are trying to determine what triggered a "savage" murder spree that included the sexual assault of two women and a child.

Bryan Clay, 22, was arrested over the weekend in connection with the deaths of Ignacia "Yarida" Martinez and her 10-year-old daughter. The mother and daughter were sexually assaulted before being bludgeoned to death in their Las Vegas home on April 15 or 16, police said.

The victims' husband and father, Arturo Martinez, was also bludgeoned and remains in critical condition.

"We believe this was a stranger, a random savage act," Lt. Ray Steiber of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police's homicide division said at a news conference. "I've been doing this 24 years and this is the case you hope you never see."

Officials discovered the deaths April 16 after the young girl's 9-year-old brother told school officials that his mother and sister were dead at home.

The child who reported the deaths and his 4-year-old brother were removed safely from the home.

Since then, authorities have been working through a forensics "nightmare" in a house where police said there was blood in every room.

Clay was a person of interest in the family massacre, but police arrested him on Friday on an outstanding felony child abuse warrant. By Saturday, he was re-booked and charged for the double homicide of the family and a separate sexual assault of a 50-year-old woman in a nearby neighborhood.

While police say they are still piecing together the timeline of events, they believe that Clay sexually assaulted the 50-year-old woman on April 15. He allegedly approached her and then "forced her into a nearby desert area and violently sexually assaulted her and fled on foot," according to a news release.

The next day, the 9-year-old reported the deaths of his family members to school officials.

"We're talking about a 50-year-old woman who was attacked, brutally attacked, and she was sexually assaulted," Steiber said. "We're talking about a family who was in their home and unbeknownst to them, a savage intruder enters that home and attacks three people."

DNA evidence connected Clay to both crimes, police said. He is being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center.

"They believe that this was a stranger, no way connected to the family or with the other victim," Officer Laura Meltzer told ABC News Monday. "He is in custody and will not be getting back out."

Clay has been charged with four criminal counts for the attack on the 50-year-old woman and seven counts for the attack on the Martinez family.

The four counts for the attack on the woman are attempted murder, sexual assault, kidnap with intent to commit a felony and robbery.

The seven counts for the attack on the family are two counts of murder with a deadly weapon, sexual assault with a deadly weapon, two counts of sexual assault on a victim under the age of 14, attempted murder with a deadly weapon and burglary.

"Just because there has been an arrest, it does not mean that this is over. It's far from over," Meltzer said. "There's still a lot of investigating to do and a lot of analysis of evidence and information to be constructed."

Police have not said what Clay's motive could have been.

"This was a very dangerous person that, through countless hours of investigation and good police work, was taken into custody," Meltzer said.

Clay is scheduled to make his first court appearance later this week.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Las Vegas Family Massacre: A Forensics 'Nightmare,' No Arrest Made

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- A 10-year-old girl bludgeoned to death along with her mother in their Las Vegas home was sexually assaulted before she was killed, police said Thursday.

Authorities have been working through a forensics "nightmare" in a house where police said there is blood in every room.

Officials discovered the deaths Monday after the young girl's 9-year-old brother told school officials that his mother and sister were dead at home.

Arturo Martinez, the girl's father, was taken from the home and is in critical condition at a hospital. His injuries were the result of "blunt force trauma," cops said.

Police have not yet been able to speak to him and said they are not calling him a suspect or ruling him out.

"We don't know if the father is a suspect or not," Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer Marcus Martin told ABC News. "We have nothing to suggest that yet. We're not ruling anybody out."

Originally, authorities said the public had no reason to worry that a killer was on the loose.

"We don't have any evidence to support that there's somebody going around doing this," Martin told ABC News on Tuesday.

But Thursday, when asked if if an outsider could be the perpetrator, Martin said, "We have not ruled that out."

When officers arrived at the house on Monday, about a half-mile from the Mabel Hoggard Elementary School that the boy attended, they discovered the bodies of his 10-year-old sister and his mother, Ignacia "Yarida" Martinez.

A 4-year-old sibling, who was distressed but unharmed, was also at the house, along with a wounded Arturo Martinez covered in blood.

Police are still trying to determine the timeline of events that took place.

The Las Vegas Coroner's Office determined that the cause of death for both mother and daughter was blunt force trauma. They specified that the mother suffered multiple blunt force head injuries from the assault and that her husband suffered similar injuries.

The 9-year-old boy who reported the deaths and his little brother have been taken into child protective services' custody. When asked if investigators have spoken to the boys to get a sense of what they saw, Martin said authorities are focusing on the boys' "mental health" after the trauma they have suffered.

"The last thing they need is investigators quizzing them," Martin said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


No Arrest in Las Vegas Family Massacre

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(LAS VEGAS) -- No arrests have been made in two Las Vegas deaths discovered after a 9-year-old boy told school officials that his mother and sister were dead at home.

"When officers arrived, even before they entered, they could see that people were down inside," Las Vegas Metropolitan Police spokesman Marcus Martin said Tuesday.

When authorities arrived at the house, about a half mile from the Mabel Hoggard Elementary School that the boy attended, they discovered the bodies of his 10-year-old sister and mother.

His 4-year-old brother, who was distressed but unharmed, was also inside the house, along with a wounded man covered in blood.

Police will not specify how the man is related to the family, but Martin said, "It appears to be a single family." The man was not arrested or charged and police would not specify how he was wounded.

"An injured male was also taken into custody," Martin said. "That male has been hospitalized and he is not charged with anything as of yet. There is nothing to say that he definitely committed the acts or did not."

But authorities also say that the public has no reason to worry that a killer is on the loose. "We don't have any evidence to support that there's somebody going around doing this," Martin said.

The Las Vegas Coroner's Office said the victims have not been positively identified so it will not release names yet.

A police investigation is ongoing.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Michelle Obama and Daughters in Las Vegas for Spring Break

The White House(LAS VEGAS) -- It’s spring break for the Obama daughters and mom has taken them out West.

Michelle Obama and her daughters visited Mount Rushmore to see the heads of the four U.S. presidents carved into the soaring mountainside.  Now, they have arrived in Las Vegas for a private family visit.

At the depths of the recession, President Obama warned Americans not to waste money on convention trips to Vegas, to the dismay of Las Vegas leaders.  But during the political campaign, he has been a frequent visitor on official and political trips to the swing state of Nevada.

The first lady’s schedule with her daughters is to remain private before she travels to California for publicly announced events.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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