Dozens of people gathered Friday night in a parking lot outside a Boulder Highway hotel-casino to bring awareness to Lesly Palacio’s death and seek the public’s help in finding two suspects in the case.
It’s just a five-minute drive from her mother’s house to the Longhorn Casino &Hotel, where the 22-year-old woman was last seen Aug. 29 leaving with Erick Rangel-Ibarra, who Las Vegas police say is a suspect in the homicide.
The body of Palacio was found near Valley of Fire State Park on Sept. 9. Days later, a warrant was issued for Rangel-Ibarra on charges of open murder and destroying/concealing evidence. His father, Jose Rangel, is sought on charges of destroying/concealing evidence and harboring, concealing or aiding a felony offender.
Jelica Grego, 39, of southwest Las Vegas came to the vigil to show support for the family despite not knowing the Palacios. Her 20-year-old daughter, Mo Floyd, stood next to her throughout the event.
“I wish I could take their pain away,” Grego said. “I wish I could take her mother’s pain.”
Palacio’s death hit home for Grego. “I hope the younger generation will be more vigilant,” she said. “It doesn’t matter the age, ethnicity, area of Las Vegas, it could literally be my daughter.”
Palacio’s teachers, Michele Crawford and Jennifer Medeiros, said Palacio’s father came to Las Vegas College on Friday to pick up her diploma. Palacio had just finished her training as a lab assistant days before she went missing.
“The faculty and students are all grieving together,” Crawford said. “We went to the house and sat with the family for a couple of hours.”
Longhorn casino co-owner Randy Miller stood a few yards away watching the vigil from the parking lot. He said he’s confident law enforcement in Las Vegas will find the suspects.
Miller said the casino is making up the difference in the family’s GoFundMe goal to pay for Palacio’s burial.
“We understand how badly they’re hurting and we really want justice for them,” he said.
Palacio’s family asked former Congressman Ruben Kihuen to speak at the vigil while young girls held a banner facing the roadway that read “Justice for Lesly.”
“No matter if they’re in Nevada, in California, anywhere in the U.S. or even in Mexico we need to find them,” he said of the suspects. “Lesly Palacio did not deserve this.”
Palacio’s 16-year-old sister, Nayelli, said her sister was her best friend and the biggest help to her mother among the four daughters.
“No one should go through this. That’s why we need justice.”