The body of a missing Las Vegas woman was found over the weekend in a stolen pickup, and investigators think her now-deceased fiance was responsible for her death.
Anjelica Fernandez was found dead with a gunshot wound to the head on Saturday, her 21st birthday. The truck was parked in the area of Gowan Road and Rainbow Boulevard. An anonymous tipster told police where to find the stolen vehicle.
Las Vegas police Sgt. William Scott said investigators think 28-year-old Keith Toten was responsible for the slaying.
After Toten killed himself early Wednesday after a three-hour standoff with police, detectives spoke to a witness in Fernandez's death. Investigators secured a search warrant for the couple's house and uncovered "a lot of evidence" that Fernandez had been slain, Scott said.
They suspected he hid her body in a stolen vehicle but did not know where it was until receiving the tip.
Detectives think she was killed around Jan. 11. That was six days after the last time she had been seen by her family.
Fernandez's father said Monday that he was "a little more at peace" after his daughter's body was found.
"We've got her back," Frank Fernandez said. "We brought her home. We don't have to wonder, where is she? What did he do to the body? Where did it go?"
An anonymous tipster also was responsible for telling police soon after Toten's suicide that Toten had killed the woman.
Frank Fernandez thinks the tipster might have been involved in her death.
"I truly believe that there was more than one person involved, and they had something to do with helping him," he said.
Toten had a long criminal history involving stolen vehicles. He served time in prison for burglary and possession of stolen vehicles.
Detectives discovered a trove of stolen goods inside his house. Property crimes investigators are working to return those items to their owners this week, Scott said.
"The guy's house is just loaded with stolen items," including televisions and car parts, Scott said. "You name it, he stole it."
On Monday, Toten's family members expressed remorse over Anjelica Fernandez's death but said they do not believe that Toten was responsible.
Jessica Maurer, Toten's 22-year-old sister, said he did not have the heart to kill someone.
"A criminal record doesn't mean he was a murderer," she said.
Toten's family members said they liked Fernandez.
"She was a great person," Maurer said.
Family members acknowledge Toten's criminal history, but they said he was never violent.
Stephanie Toten, who divorced him last year, said that he never struck her and that even after they separated, he supported her.
"With him, it was always work, family and friends," she said.
In April, Keith Toten lost his job as an ironworker. In October, he began falling into old habits as his life spiraled out of control. He began selling drugs and stealing cars.
Toten's family said that he met Fernandez through a drug deal that month and that the two began living together.
"It got really bad after October," Maurer said. "It was nothing about Anjelica. It was just him, himself."
Toten's father died when he was young, and his mother was never very involved in his life. The family members he did have began to distance themselves from him, Maurer said.
But never did they think that he could kill Fernandez. The two always seemed happy, Toten's family said, adding that detectives found love notes and letters in his house. One of Toten's sisters said he had gone to seven jewelry stores before choosing an engagement ring for Fernandez.
When Toten's relatives heard about her death, their hearts went out to Fernandez's family.
"We are very sorry for their loss," Maurer said. "Anjelica was an awesome person. It's really sad that she's gone."
Contact reporter Lawrence Mower at email@example.com or 702-383-0440.