Just before noon on May 28, 2008, the body of a woman was found off Lee Canyon Road on the way to Mount Charleston, speaker wire tied around her neck, the body doused with chemicals.
For more than three years, Las Vegas homicide detectives never doubted who killed 52-year-old Maria Marino: her own family.
But until recently, authorities didn't think they could prove it in court.
On Wednesday, the Clark County district attorney's office released charging documents and police reports for three of Marino's relatives, each charged with murder:
■ Dolores Penardo, 50, also known as Dolores Petrozzino, Marino's younger sister. She was bitter that Marino controlled their father's finances, according to the police report. One witness told police that Penardo said, "That (expletive) is gonna be dead in seven days," just five days before Marino disappeared. Penardo was arrested Monday.
■ Richard Penardo, 38, Dolores Penardo's husband at the time Marino was killed. Richard Penardo told his stepson, Bobby Petrozzino, that he strangled Marino and beat her with a fire extinguisher, according to police. Authorities said others told police Richard Penardo did not kill Marino but helped conceal the crime. He was arrested Wednesday.
■ Stefanie Petrozzino, 30, Dolores Penardo's daughter. The day before Marino's body was found, she called a boyfriend in prison and said she might be joining him shortly. "This is like, 'I may never (expletive) see you again issues,' " she was recorded saying. She was already in prison Wednesday, having pleaded guilty to a robbery charge in 2009.
Unlike many homicide cases, there was no physical evidence that linked anyone to the crime. Only Marino's DNA was found at the crime scene, and although the victim and the suspects lived together at 4115 Santa Terrasa Place, where authorities think Marino was killed, police could not find evidence there of an attack.
But there was plenty of finger-pointing from friends and family. And after three years, the information piled up.
"All three subjects admitted their involvement in varying degrees to different people," the police report said.
Highlights of the investigation included the following:
■ In June 2008, two of Stefanie Petrozzino's friends told police she had asked them to help hide the body of her aunt, which she had been keeping in the trunk of her car, the report said.
Her friends said Petrozzino specifically mentioned strangling Marino with speaker wire. The report said that details of the case, such as the speaker wire found around Marino's neck, had not been released to the family.
When detectives later confronted Petrozzino about her friends' statements, she abruptly ended the interview.
■ In December 2008, an inmate at the Clark County Detention Center told detectives that Petrozzino had admitted killing her aunt with her bare hands. Petrozzino had been serving time at the jail for a gross misdemeanor when she made the comments, the report said.
■ In August 2009, Bobby Petrozzino -- Stefanie Petrozzino's brother and Dolores Penardo's son -- told police he was incarcerated at High Desert State Prison at the time of Marino's death.
He said his stepfather, Richard Penardo, called him and asked whether it was raining at the prison a few days before Marino's body was found.
Dolores Penardo asked her son to call her if it rained at the prison, the report said. The report noted that the prison is near Mount Charleston, where Marino's body was later recovered.
Bobby Petrozzino also received a phone call from his mother on May 22, 2008. She was recorded as saying, "There's not gonna be anymore problems when you come home. I just had a discussion with my friend that kept giving us a hard time, and she's not gonna give us a hard time anymore."
When Bobby Petrozzino asked whether his mother was referring to Marino, she became annoyed, the report said.
He later told police his stepfather, Richard Penardo, said that he had killed Marino and that his mother and sister were probably involved.
Although Bobby Petrozzino initially said his mother and sister had nothing to do with the killing, he later implicated them after "he realized what happened was wrong," the report said.
The reason behind Marino's killing was not known.
Near the end of the report, police said they recently learned that Maria Marino and Dolores Penardo's father had been rumored to receive a hefty lawsuit settlement.
Some people told police Marino was killed for her share of the money, the report said, but that was speculation.
Homicide Lt. Ray Steiber praised Detective Robert Rogers' diligence in gathering the necessary information to close the case.
Although there was no clear "smoking gun," the totality of the evidence led to charges being filed.
"He was just committed to solving this murder, I mean relentless," Steiber said. "Ultimately, we gained the probable cause that was necessary."
At the family's home Wednesday, a relative who said he was visiting from New York was dismissive about the arrests.
"People have been arresting my family on this case for years," he said, referring to the number of times family members were interviewed by police.
When he was told charges had been filed, he shrugged his shoulders and closed the door.
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at mblasky@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0283.