LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Photos of the decomposing body of 24-year-old Esmeralda Gonzalez and the box where investigators found her revealed key evidence in the investigation of her murder.
WARNING: Graphic photos below.
Gonzalez was reported missing on May 31. On Oct. 8, Metro police detectives said they found her decomposing body in a structure made of wood and concrete in a desert area north of Las Vegas.
Grand jury transcripts described her body wrapped in blankets and secured with ropes and straps.
During the investigation, police say they found jewelry belonging to Gonzalez, including her Rolex, appraised for nearly $40,000, as well as Chanel necklace.
The I-Team obtained a photo of 45-year-old Christopher Prestipino’s bedroom at his southwest Valley home, where everything began.
Metro police say Gonzalez was a sex worker and that Prestipino hired her. Detectives say he gave her meth and was not aware of her mental issues. Prestipino claimed Gonzalez started acting bizarre, speaking in the “devil’s tongue,” according to the arrest report.
He tied her to a chair, and she threatened to call the cops and punched him, detectives say. Prestipino then strangled her before he and his co-defendant Casandra Garrett injected her with pool cleaner, police described. Finally, detectives say they placed Gonzalez’s body in the box structure with concrete.
The I-Team also learned Prestipino’s friend Tricia Ott testified before the grand jury. Ott said he called her to his home in the middle of the night in June, acting paranoid. She claimed she couldn’t hear him well when he described what happened because he was blasting the TV and music. Ott described at least two stops: one behind a business, where she said Prestipino disposed of a freezer, and then behind Paris, where she said he tried to get a forklift but was unable to. Ott said you’re supposed to have clearance to be in that area but that somehow, they were able to enter in a U-Haul facility without clearance. Ott said Prestipino scared her, and she left.
Gonzalez, who had more than 300,000 Instagram followers, listed herself as a college graduate, real estate investor and model. Loved ones set up a Justice for Esmeralda Gonzalez Facebook page with updates, including her funeral arrangements on Nov. 12.
A medical examiner identified the body of Gonzalez by matching her DNA to her parents.
Charges against Prestipino include murder and kidnapping, and he is scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 5.
In additional court documents obtained by the I-Team, Prestipino is asking for his belongings back, including his BMW, which were taken by police for the investigation.