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Grim details in case against Las Vegas couple accused in luring death

Updated March 31, 2020 - 8:42 am

A couple accused of killing a man they’d lured to an east Las Vegas apartment with the promise of sex sent photos of the victim’s body to a friend, then boasted of the slaying and claimed they skinned their dog, police said.

The grisly details are contained in arrest reports for Tonya Dillard, 27, and her boyfriend Jacob Berkovitz, 24, both of Las Vegas. Each is charged with murder, robbery and conspiracy in the Friday slaying of Hector Mendez-Hernandez, 44.

Las Vegas police wrote in arrest reports that the investigation into the couple started Friday when a witness showed up at a Las Vegas police station to report concerns that “her friend Dillard and her boyfriend Dylan Rose may have killed someone.” Rose was later determined to be an alias used by Berkovitz.

The witness told police she was on the phone with Dillard that day when Dillard made statements that alarmed her

“Dillard stated that she was with her boyfriend (Berkovitz) and that the couple recently killed and skinned their dog,” officers wrote in an arrest report.

The witness questioned Dillard about it.

“Dillard responded with, ‘If you think that is strange, I’m sitting next to a dead body,’ ” police wrote in the arrest reports.

Police said Dillard then sent the witness a photo via Facebook messenger “depicting images of Dillard’s bloody hand and Mendez-Hernandez, who appeared to be severely beaten.”

“Upon sending the photos Dillard added they planned to empty their refrigerator and place the body inside it to hide it,” police wrote in the report. “Under the cover of darkness, Dillard and Berkovitz were going to drive Mendez-Hernandez’s vehicle out of town.”

The witness took screen shots of the Facebook photos sent to her and gave them to police.

“The images appear to be authentic and depicted a possible victim with severe head trauma,” police wrote.

Police set up surveillance of the couple’s residence in the 2200 block of North Colebrook Street, near East Lake Mead Boulevard and North Lamb Boulevard. The two were observed leaving in Mendez-Hernandez’s F-150 pickup and arrested, police said.

“Berkovitz immediately made a spontaneous utterance stating that the decedent’s body was in the bathroom area of the residence,” police wrote.

The suspects were interviewed and both confessed, police wrote in their arrest reports.

“Dillard stated that her and Berkovitz had preplanned the murder,” police wrote in the reports. “Dillard added that it was premeditated. According to Dillard, her and Berkovitz came up with a plan to post an ad on ‘Craigslist’ for the purpose of luring a victim. Dillard added that the plan was to utilize sex as a tool to entice the unknown victim, then kill him, then take their vehicle so that Berkovitz and Dillard could go travel somewhere secluded and live in the woods.”

Police said the victim responded to the ad, picked up the two suspects in his pickup on Friday night, then drove them to the couple’s home.

“Dillard distracted Mendez-Hernandez while Berkovitz began to shoot him,” police wrote. “Mendez-Hernandez was subsequently stabbed over 25 times and bludgeoned with a dumbbell set in the head until he was deceased.”

A status check on the filing of a criminal complaint in the case is scheduled for March 31 in Las Vegas Justice Court. Both suspects were in custody at the Clark County Detention Center as of Tuesday morning, being held without bail.

Contact Glenn Puit at gpuit@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0390. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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