LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The family of a 23-year-old woman who investigators say had been “dead for a while” when they found her during a drug bust wants answers.
In February, FBI agents and Metro Police officers found Sahara Hoffine’s body inside a home at 2953 Lawndale St. on the east side. Hoffine was lying on a couch in the home of a man federal agents later took into custody on drug charges.
“The [informant] said that the female was definitely dead, and she was stiff as a board and that she was dead for a while,” court documents said.
Hoffine had moved to Las Vegas in October from Washington State, her mother, Loretta Hoffine, said.
“I’m very angry because she was mine,” Loretta said. “She was a person. She was mine. She was my baby. She was worth so much more than that.”
Loretta said Hoffine was an accomplished athlete who loved animals. She said she had come to Las Vegas for a new challenge and did not think her daughter was using any drugs besides marijuana.
“She swore, faithfully, that she was not using any other drugs,” Loretta said. “I believe it because I know she was afraid of them. It just wasn’t in her nature.”
Sahara had no criminal record, her family said. And, as far as they know, she had never been to the house on Lawndale Street.
“To be in that house, that’s the biggest red flag for us,” Kristina Eddy, Sahara’s cousin, said. “She deserves to have this looked into. The circumstances of her death shouldn’t discount that this was abnormal.”
The FBI and Metro had been investigating 47-year-old Gilberto Valle, an eight-time convicted felon, since January, court documents said. He was arrested on charges of distribution of methamphetamine, possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine and being a felon in possession of ammunition.
During the investigation in February, an undercover informant went to what court documents said was Valle’s house to buy methamphetamine. When the informant entered the house, Sahara was lying on the couch. The family was told Sahara had likely been there for several days, they said.
It is not clear if or how Valle and Sahara knew each other. Sahara’s official cause of death, according to the Clark County Coroner’s Office, is listed as acute intoxication of methamphetamine. Her manner of death is accidental, but her family said that just does not seem right.
“What happened to this girl and why?” Eddy said. “If this was an accidental overdose, why did she sit on a couch for two days?”
No charges have been filed in relation to Sahara’s death. Metro Police said the investigation remains open and ongoing.