LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Evidence presented to a grand jury last month shows Erick Rangel-Ibarra, 25, and Jose Rangel, 46, moving the body of Lesly Palacio, 22, in August, prosecutors allege, according to documents obtained by the I-Team.
Prosecutors submitted several dozen crime scene photos and a handful of surveillance videos into evidence in Rangel’s case. Last month, a grand jury indicted him on charges of being an accessory to murder and destroying or concealing evidence.
Palacio was last seen alive on August 29, 2020. Her body was found near the Valley of Fire two weeks later. The coroner has not released her cause of death.
According to court transcripts and video footage, prosecutors believe Rangel-Ibarra returned to his home with Palacio around 6 a.m. the morning of Aug. 29 after a night of drinking. Video shows a man, who prosecutors identify as Rangel-Ibarra, helping a woman, identified as Palacio, get out of a truck parked in front of his home on Tipper Avenue on the east side, court documents said.
“A male with clothing consistent to what he was wearing in the surveillance video is assisting what appears to be an intoxicated female wearing clothing consistent with Lesly’s clothing in the video into his residence,” a Metro homicide detective told the grand jury.
An hour later, the same camera from a home down the street captures a man, whom prosecutors have identified as Rangel-Ibarra, and another man, whom prosecutors identified as Rangel, dragging a body from the home and into the same truck.
“The male with the clothing consistent to Erick’s is out the passenger door, front passenger door of his truck, and it appeared to me to be dragging a body out,” the detective describes to the court. “Yes, that second male in white was assisting the other male drag the body out and place it in the front passenger compartment.”
A few minutes later, the video shows the truck leaving, and a man, whom prosecutors identified as Rangel, hosing off the walkway.
“That is Jose Rangel [sic] comes away from the doorway of the residence and picks up a hose and starts spraying water on that little patch of rocks and grass and on the driveway,” the detective told the court.
Police said Rangel-Ibarra killed Palacio, then left the country with his father. Rangel was arrested near the U.S.-Mexico border last month.
Palacio’s body was about a half-mile off a dirt road on September 9, 2020, court documents said. No information has been released about the timeline after the truck left the Rangel home.
A friend of Rangel’s testified to the grand jury, telling them Rangel told him his family was not involved.
“He stated that afternoon, well, that morning, Erick leaves with the body, and Jose believed he was going to Utah to destroy the body is what he was told,” the friend told the court. “He denied having any involvement with that. He did not believe his wife or anybody else in the house had any part of a cleanup inside the residence.”
Crime scene photos from inside the home show a stripped bed and some blood splatter, though investigators have yet to determine the source of the blood, documents said. Investigators also shared photos of gloves and cleaning supplies in the home.
Rangel initially told police he thought Palacio had died from an overdose, but then told police he initially saw the body when Erick dragged it down the stairs of their home on a bed sheet, documents said.
As of Monday, Palacio’s cause and manner of death have not been determined. The coroner’s office is awaiting toxicology results.
Rangel-Ibarra is wanted on charges of murder and destroying evidence. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (702) 385-5555.