LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Surveillance video showing Erick Rangel’s movements in the hours following Lesly Palacio’s disappearance helped police build a murder case against him. Rangel’s statements to others indicated he took her body to a desert area near Valley of Fire.
The new revelations are contained in a declaration of warrant report dated Sept. 14. The warrant also contains statements to police from people who spoke to Rangel after he nearly ran out of gas near Valley of Fire State Park, and others who were asked to help get him into Mexico.
Rangel, 25, and his father, Jose Rangel, 45, haven’t been seen since they abruptly left Las Vegas in the hours following 22-year-old Lesly Palacio’s disappearance.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department officers believe Erick and Jose Rangel are in Mexico.
Palacio’s body was found Sept. 9 near Valley of Fire.
Surveillance video from a neighbor’s house shows that Erick Rangel appeared to be helping Lesly out of his Ford F-150 pickup just after 6 a.m. on Aug. 29, taking her into his residence. About 45 minutes later, he leaves alone, without a shirt. About a half hour after that, he returns with a man who fits the description of his father, Jose. The descriptions are contained in the declaration of warrant report.
The two appear to drag a person out of the residence — someone who is either dead or “passed out limp,” according to the report. The person is placed into the rear cab of the pickup.
Video also captures images of an attempt to clean the driveway with a hose by the man fitting Jose Rangel’s description.
Detectives executing a search warrant at Erick Rangel’s residence found “a small amount of blood spatter in Rangel’s bedroom,” which analysis showed to be human blood.
Surveillance video from earlier showed Erick Rangel drinking shots at two bars — Putter’s Bar at 5821 E. Charleston and Bourbon Street Sports Bar at 1288 S. Nellis — in the hours after he left with Palacio from the Longhorn Casino on Boulder Highway.
Investigators using phone records found that Rangel called a friend from the Valley of Fire area on the morning of Aug. 29. The friend, who police did not identify, said Rangel asked for help buying gas and said he didn’t want to be seen on video.
When asked why he needed gas so urgently, Rangel said repeatedly, “I killed a (expletive), I killed a (expletive),” according to the report. He continued, “She’s dead in the back of my truck.”
Rangel told the friend he was using a burner phone.
Erick and Jose Rangel left Las Vegas on Aug. 29 at about 5:30 p.m.
Erick’s sister, Karen, told police he was acting oddly and seemed in a rush to leave.
Reports from Riverside County, California, indicate that Jose and Erick Rangel spent the night with relatives in Moreno Valley. Jose Rangel had asked the relatives for help in crossing the border, but they refused.
The Ford F-150 was found at a bus station in Perris, Calif., and impounded as evidence by Riverside County Sheriff’s personnel. Rangel intended to give the vehicle to an unknown brother-in-law, according to the report.
During the investigation, the “Find my iPhone” feature on Jose Rangel’s iPad revealed that the phone was in Mexico. The date of that discovery was not revealed.