Lesly Palacio had dreams of earning enough money to live in a large house and take care of her family.
But on Wednesday, 11 days after the 22-year-old Las Vegas woman was last seen at a casino, her family realized those dreams wouldn’t come true. Palacio’s body was found in the desert outside of the Valley of Fire State Park, and police have yet to find the suspect, whom family members said is a family friend.
In an interview hours before a vigil for Palacio on Thursday night, family members said they believe that 25-year-old Erick Rangel-Ibarra, whom the Metropolitan Police Department has named as a suspect in Palacio’s death, is the reason she’s gone.
“She was finally in a good place in life,” said her 16-year-old sister, Nayelli.
“And they took that from her,” added Blanca Garcia, Palacio’s cousin.
In a Sept. 1 news release, Metro announced that Rangel-Ibarra and 45-year-old Jose Rangel were both missing and had last been seen Aug. 29, the same night Palacio disappeared. Homicide Lt. Ray Spencer said Thursday that Jose Rangel is Rangel-Ibarra’s father but that the older man was not a suspect in Palacio’s death.
“However the investigation is still very active,” Spencer said in a text message Thursday.
The Clark County coroner’s office has not officially identified Palacio or released her cause and manner of death.
Las Vegas police say investigators along with Moapa tribal police and Red Rock Search and Rescue located Lesly Palacio’s body near the Valley of Fire State Park in Moapa Valley.
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department previously said they were considering foul play in the disappearance of the local 22-year-old.
Lesly Palacio was reported missing and endangered by police on Sept. 1. She was last seen on Aug. 29 in Las Vegas.
Her family says all of it started after she met up with a family friend.
“She went to Longhorn Casino with Erick Rangel,” said Kaly Palacio, sister.
Also on Wednesday, the Longhorn Casino released the below surveillance video from the morning of Aug. 29 that casino representatives say shows Palacio visiting the property.
Lesly Palacio’s sisters spoke to 13 Action News a few days ago about her disappearance. Her family says they stopped hearing from her the next morning.
“It looks like she was typing and it just stopped and she didn’t reply back for like an hour. So, I tried calling her and her phone was off,” said Karely Palacio, sister. “I find that really weird because she never does that, she always has her phone on.”
Homicide detectives said they have identified 25-year-old Erick Rangel-Ibarra as the main person in question with Lesly Palacio’s death and will be pursuing a warrant for his arrest for one count of open murder.
Rangel-Ibarra was reported missing by authorities on Sept. 1 before LVMPD named him as a suspect on Sept. 9. in Lesly Palacio’s disappearance.
“I don’t know why they were packing their stuff, that looks really suspicious. If your son is missing you should be cooperating with us, you should have the same pain that my mom is having right now,” said Kaly Palacio.
UPDATE (September 9): Las Vegas police said they found the body of Lesly Palacio on Wednesday near Valley of Fire State Park in Moapa Valley.
The cause and manner of her death will be released by the coroner’s office, police said.
According to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police, detectives have identified Erick Rangel-Ibarra as the suspect in her death and will be pursuing a warrant for his arrest for a murder charge.
Anyone with any information about this incident is urged to contact the LVMPD Homicide Section by phone at 702-828-3521, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 702-385-5555, or on the internet at www.crimestoppersofnv.com.