Shauna Tiaffay had been dead for hours by the time her husband and daughter made the grisly discovery.
Her body was cold and stiff. The hole from a hammer to the side of her head was so deep that paramedics first thought she might have been shot.
The 46-year-old mother had broken several fingers trying to defend herself from being bludgeoned to death in the early morning hours of Sept. 29, but the woman had been caught off-guard after returning home from a graveyard shift as a Palms cocktail waitress.
George Tiaffay pulled the couple's 8-year-old daughter from the home and called 911.
It appeared Shauna Tiaffay, who was separated from her husband and lived alone in her Summerlin apartment at 2601 S. Pavilion Center Drive, had been the tragic victim of a break-in gone wrong. At least, that's how police said it was meant to look.
But police said George Tiaffay knew what his daughter would see inside her mom's home.
On Wednesday, less than two weeks after he discovered his wife's dead body, George Tiaffay was arrested on a murder charge. He was accused of masterminding the plot to kill his estranged wife.
Noel "Greyhound" Stevens, 37, was also arrested on a murder charge.
Police said Stevens, a vagrant who lived at campsites around town, was the hitman Tiaffay hired to wield the hammer.
The elements behind the scheme were revealed Thursday in a Las Vegas police report. But of all the grim details police uncovered, a motive remained unknown.
Tiaffay, 40, was booked at the Clark County jail on Wednesday. He had been hospitalized since Monday at University Medical Center after he drove his truck into a wall near Summerlin Parkway and Interstate 215.
Detectives said Tiaffay learned he was the prime suspect and was trying to commit suicide. In addition to the murder and conspiracy charges, Tiaffay was arrested on destruction of property charges.
Tiaffay, who has worked as a Las Vegas firefighter since 2002 and was a 1994 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, didn't say much to detectives who visited his hospital room Wednesday afternoon.
A day after the killing, a "concerned citizen" called police and said his friend "Greyhound" had killed someone's wife for $600 and the promise of more money.
The friend told police that Greyhound, later identified as Stevens, had struck a woman with a hammer so hard that the handle broke. Stevens told the friend he continued to beat the woman with the head of the hammer until she was dead, the police report said.
With the tipster's help, detectives were able to locate Stevens outside a gasoline station and arrested him on drug possession charges.
Stevens told police that George Tiaffay was a longtime friend who he occasionally worked for as a handyman. He denied any knowledge of Shauna Tiaffay's death.
But police later found several items of clothing from Shauna Tiaffay's home, including her underwear, in one of Stevens' tents near Charleston Boulevard on the west end of the valley.
Detectives also found a bloodstained T-shirt and pair of jeans during a search of a second tent near Town Center Drive and Tropicana Avenue. The blood tested positive for both Stevens and Shauna Tiaffay.
A duplicate of Shauna Tiaffay's apartment key was found in a shed Stevens was known to use behind the gasoline station he frequented. Police suspect Stevens also burglarized the woman's apartment several weeks before the killing. There were no signs of forced entry into her apartment.
An employee at the station told police he had helped Stevens pawn one of Shauna Tiaffay's rings for about $200. The employee also told detectives that Stevens had bragged he was going to commit a murder for $20,000.
George Tiaffay and Stevens were linked to the crime using cellphone records that indicated the duo met a few hours after the killing, the report said.
They were also recorded on a store surveillance camera together buying a hammer, knife and gloves a few weeks before her death.
Tiaffay and Stevens will make their first court appearances on the murder charges today.
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at email@example.com or 702-383-0283.