LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The manhunt continues for 22-year-old Lesly Palacio’s accused killer three years after she was murdered inside a Las Vegas home and her body discarded in the desert.
Erick Rangel-Ibarra, now in his late 20s, is the only suspect in Palacio’s murder. In 2021, Jose Rangel, Erick Rangel-Ibarra’s father, pleaded guilty to helping his son move Palacio’s body from the family home. A judge sentenced Rangel to two years in prison. Last year, the 8 News Now Investigators reported Rangel was released after serving less than nine months.
“Do not forget Lesly Palacio,” Ofelia Markarian, Palacio’s friend and the attorney for the Palacio family, said Monday. “Do not forget this horrendous crime.”
Three years since Palacio’s death on Aug. 29, 2020, Rangel-Ibarra remains on the run. Police suspect he was in Mexico within 48 hours of Palacio’s death. After coverage of the murder, Rangel’s criminal case and media reports about the international search for Rangel-Ibarra, Markarian remained optimistic.
“We are still very, very hopeful that authorities will find him and bring him to justice,” she said.
Video evidence presented to a grand jury in 2021 showed Rangel-Ibarra and Rangel moving Palacio’s body on the morning of her suspected death, according to documents obtained first by the 8 News Now Investigators that year.
According to court transcripts and video footage, prosecutors said Rangel-Ibarra returned to his home with Palacio around 6 a.m. after a night of drinking. Video shows a man, whom prosecutors identified as Rangel-Ibarra, helping a woman, identified as Palacio, get out of a truck parked in front of his home, court documents said.
An hour later, the same camera from a home down the street captures two men, whom prosecutors identified as Rangel-Ibarra and Rangel, dragging a body from the home and into the same truck. A few minutes later, the video shows the truck leaving, and a man, whom prosecutors identified as Rangel, hosing off the walkway.
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 his son dragged it down the stairs of their home on a bed sheet, documents said.
“There’s still a big question mark in the whole case,” Markarian said Monday.
That question: How did Palacio die? Markarian said detectives have never provided that information to the family due to the ongoing investigation.
In August 2021, a judge sentenced Rangel to two years at the Clark County Detention Center with 205 days credit for time served. Rangel was ultimately released on April 28, 2022.
The time equals 8 months and 15 days. There is no early-release stipulation in court documents other than the 205-day credit.
“Her family and Lesly deserve for Erick to be behind bars,” Markarian said.
“The theory is someone or some people are helping him in some way. What would be your message to those people who know where he is?” 8 News Now Investigator David Charns asked Markarian.
“Our message is to turn Erick in,” Markarian said. “It’s been three years. Lesly deserves justice. Her family deserves justice.”
A Metro spokesperson said the department continues to work to locate Rangel-Ibarra.
Palacio’s official cause and manner of death are listed as undetermined. Investigators have not elaborated on what evidence inside the Rangel home led them to determine Palacio is the victim of a homicide. An undetermined cause and manner of death means there is not enough evidence on a deceased person’s body to clearly determine how they died.
Rangel-Ibarra is wanted on charges of murder and destroying evidence. Tips can be submitted anonymously through Crime Stoppers by calling 702-385-5555 or at crimestoppersofnv.com/report-a-crime. Information can also be sent via text by sending “CRIMENV” and then your message to “CRIMES” (274637). Crime Stoppers offers a reward for information that leads to an arrest.