LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Family and friends of a woman who was found dead at a Las Vegas hotel are in disbelief. Her boyfriend, 31-year-old Justin Medof, is now behind bars in connection to the crime and was in court Thursday.
Stephanie Duarte, 30, of Orange, California, was found at the Home2 Suites on Dean Martin near Tropicana.
She and Medof were on vacation this past weekend. He said they got into an argument while at the Fremont Street Experience, then he went back to the hotel to sleep. When he woke up Monday, Duarte was found “beaten, bloody and unconscious.”
Medof faces an open murder charge, and Duarte’s family is now left remembering what a loving person she was.
“A person who loved life; a person who was always ready for adventure, loving, thoughtful,” Andrea Duarte, Stephanie’s sister, shared with 8 News Now. “…Very driven. Her work has always been a priority, as is her friends, but more importantly, her family.”
Stephanie and Medof had only been dating a short time when they planned a weekend getaway from California.
“This has been horrific,” Andrea lamented. “We have never experienced anything like this. It has been horrific.”
According to a Metro arrest report, Medof called 911 after finding Stephanie injured. Guests in the room next door reported a fight and furniture being moved around. Police also noticed Medof had injuries on his body.
He has hired well-known defense attorney Robert Draskovich.
“You never take a police report at face value,” Draskovich said. “We are now beginning our own investigation, and we expect there to be more to this story.”
He shares his client was studying to become a lawyer himself and is going through a tough time, thinking about how this will affect his family.
Meanwhile, the Duarte family is dealing with heartbreak.
“We were very close growing up,” Andrea recalled. “She was my other half.”
Stephanie’s family and friends say they want her to be remembered for her loving personality.
“I am so grateful for all the messages and calls that I am getting because, just so nice to see how many people loved her,” Andrea said.
Medof is due back in court Aug. 2.
If you’d like to donate to Stephanie’s memorial fund, click here. It has been set up on behalf of her family, with their permission.