The Grand Jury recently indicted Christopher Prestipino – charged with the murder of Esmerelda Gonzalez, whose body was found encased in a concrete and wooden structure. The 45-year-old man is also facing charges of kidnapping and conspiracy. The indictment was returned by a Grand Jury, and eliminates the need for a preliminary hearing, instead taking the case directly to the trial court level.
Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys expect that the suspect will have a challenging time answering to the charges against him.
His accomplice and roommate, Cassandra Garrett, age 39, is also facing counts of harboring, concealing or aiding a felon. As is Prestipino’s girlfriend, Lisa Mort, age 31; she, too, faces charges of harboring, concealing or aiding a felon in connection with Esmerelda’s death.
What Are The Details of The Crime?
Court documents allege that Prestipino and Garrett murdered Gonzalez “with a poisonous substance and/or by strangulation.” Prosecutors state that Prestipino took extensive measures to hide the young woman’s body after he strangled her and injected her with pool cleaner. “Prestipino rented a U-Haul, and the victim’s body was dumped in the desert,” the prosecutors wrote a court document. “Prestipino and Garrett have been panicked because they left the rented U-Haul dolly at the body dump location.”
What Do We Know About the Victim?
Gonzalez was an aspiring model who worked in the adult entertainment industry and had a large following of admirers on social media. Her Facebook profile indicated she was born in Michoacan, Mexico, and had studied at UNLV. She was last seen alive in the early morning on May 31st, 2019, when she was spotted on a neighbor’s surveillance video trying to open the door to a house that wasn’t her own. The occupants awoke and advised her she was at the wrong house. They said her “gait was unsteady, and she appeared disoriented.”
The situation is still unclear, as Gonzalez suffered from mental illness. Other neighbors had reported seeing her walking around the neighborhood in high heels and lingerie, asking for a ride somewhere. As well, a day earlier, a neighbor had given her a ride to a BMW dealership where surveillance showed she was wearing the same outfit.
Tips Lead to The Suspects
About a week after Gonzalez went missing, friends became concerned, and police were called to enter her house, which appeared ransacked. An investigation began, however, nothing was clear until late July when homicide detectives received a tip that Prestipino might have killed Gonzalez. Another tipster told police that Prestipino had “killed the missing girl.”
A witness told the police, in court, that Esmerelda had been at Prestipino’s house getting high on methamphetamine the day of the murder. Prestipino was not aware of Esmerelda’s mental health problems, and he became shocked when she began speaking in “the devil’s tongue.” Some point after that, she was tied to a bedpost and killed. It is reported that she had threatened to call the police on Prestipino because of the drugs he had given her.
Suspect Tried to Hide The Gruesome Crime
Six days after Gonzalez disappeared, Prestipino was captured on surveillance video at a Home Depot paying cash for five 60-pound bags of cement mix, a 50-pound bag of Type S lime (used to mix cement), two boxes of deck screws, eight concrete fence cap blocks, two tubes of WD-40 silicone lubricant, an Ocean Mist air freshener and an iced coffee. He returned to the same store the next day and bought a drill and concrete mixing paddle.
Shortly thereafter, Prestipino called a friend to help him move a wooden box full of concrete into a U-haul truck. The friend said that “Chris was acting strange and turned the radio up loud because he thought the FBI was listening.” They tried to move the box for hours, but it was too heavy and awkward.
There is no indication of how the box was eventually moved and taken to the desert, though there is indication, as per a witness statement in court documents, that “Chris had taken a week off of work to deal with the situation and stated he was going to call someone from New York to help clean it up.”
Arrested and Held Without Bail
At some point, Prestipino ran off to Belize. When he returned to Las Vegas, he was arrested. He is being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center. Court records show that he has a criminal history in Clark County dating back to, at least, 2001 when he was convicted of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell. In 2006, he was convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine.