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$10K reward offered for arrests in Las Vegas slaying

Updated June 22, 2020 - 11:31 am

David Rathbun retired to Las Vegas from New York in 2015 for the warm weather, the hiking and the entertainment.

“He was so sick of the snow in upstate New York,” said his daughter, Natasha Rathbun-McBride, 30, of Salt Lake City. “He just wanted to go some place where it was sunny and there were palm trees. He would say if ‘There are palm trees, then I feel like I’m on vacation.’ He went to Vegas to enjoy life.”

Las Vegas police say, however, that two years after Rathbun moved to Vegas and bought a house, he became the victim of an elaborate, deadly scam. Lt. Ray Spencer said Rathbun’s belongings and house were swindled by a con-artist couple and Rathbun was reported missing in the fall of 2017. Rathbun’s body was later found in 2018, dumped in a rural Arizona mine shaft.

His family and Las Vegas police are now asking for the public’s help in locating two murder suspects, Jolene Hibbs, 45, and Charles Ausiello, 55, who are charged in the killing.

The family also is offering a $10,000 reward for any information that leads to the suspects’ arrests.

“I think both of these people are dangerous,” said Rathbun’s sister, Linda Rathbun. “People should keep their distance from them.”

Met woman online

Rathbun’s family said shortly before he went missing he’d mentioned in passing to his daughters that he’d met a Las Vegas woman online named Jolene. Rathbun told his daughters he was simply trying to help Hibbs because she was going through hard times, on the verge of homelessness and struggling with health issues. He allowed her to stay at his home on a short-term basis.

“I thought it was the most absurd thing, but he felt for her, and he was trying to help her out,” Rathbun-McBride said. “Someone he’d met online, they weren’t dating, but she was down on her luck. He invited her to come live with him.”

Rathbun mentioned that he’d met Hibbs’ boyfriend, Charles. His family was wary, and Rathbun eventually told another family member soon after he was trying to get the two to leave his house.

Then, he disappeared.

His family texted him repeatedly but couldn’t get a hold of him. When they did text him, they got “strange” responses that did not seem like they came from Rathbun.

“About a week later my aunt called me and asked if I’d actually spoken to my father and I hadn’t,” Rathbun-McBride said. “I’d only gotten one or two text messages, one or two words, trying to end the conversation.”

Investigations begun

Rathbun’s family contacted police and launched their own investigation. They learned Rathbun’s house was sold in a hurry for far less than what it was worth. They knew immediately something was very wrong because Rathbun, a meticulous man who worked as a certified public accountant throughout his professional career, would not liquidate his house for less than what it was worth.

Rathbun’s belongings were stolen from his home as well, and someone was attempting to drain his bank account and use his ATM card. Las Vegas police subsequently received information from a tipster that led them to Rathbun’s body in a mine shaft in Arizona. Spencer said murder warrants have been issued for Hibbs and Ausiello, but police haven’t been able to locate them.

“If someone has seen them or has any information about them, please contact Crimestoppers,” Rathbun-McBride said.

“Also, just be aware that this could happen. None of us thought that you could sell someone’s house, take their belongings and assume their life and get away with it, which is what essentially happened.”

Anyone with information may call the Metropolitan Police Department’s homicide section at 702-828-3521 or Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555.

Contact Glenn Puit at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

This story has been updated to correct the amount of the reward being offered by Rathbun’s family.

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