Las Vegas billboards focus attention on 2 unsolved killings

Updated October 12, 2018 - 11:33 pm

When Connie Land drives past the billboards plastered with her daughter’s face, she sometimes doesn’t realize what she’s seeing. Then her brain registers Sydney’s face from October 2016: young, smiling and — most important — alive.

“I know it’s Syd, but it doesn’t register to me that that is what our life is now,” Connie Land said.

On Oct. 27, 2016, Sydney Land and Nehemiah “Neo” Kauffman, were found gunned down inside a southwest Las Vegas apartment. The woman was 21, and her boyfriend was 20.

Police at the time estimated that the victims had been dead at least a day at the Union Apartments, 4450 S. Hualapai Way. Nearly two years later, Las Vegas police haven’t identified a motive or any suspects.

“I don’t know how that’s possible when we’ve done everything that we’ve done,” Connie Land said Wednesday.

Since mid-September, Connie Land and her husband, Steve, have been paying for four billboards in the Las Vegas Valley that ask for information about the unsolved homicides.

Connie Land said it’s the second time the family has put up the advertisements, paid for in part through fundraisers, in the two years since their daughter’s death.

“All we can do is our very best to try to keep this out in the public eye,” the mother said. “Has it rendered the results that we’ve wanted? No.”

The billboards cost $9,000 for two months, Connie Land said. They want to keep the billboards up as long as possible, but she said they can only do what they can afford.

In the days after the killings, the Metropolitan Police Department said evidence pointed to two adult male suspects. A person of interest, 23-year-old Shane Valentine, was named a month later, but police were unable to connect him to the crime.

Prosecutors said Valentine crashed a car into a woman’s home on Oct. 8, 2016, throwing rocks and firing a shot into the house. They also said detectives found text messages in which Valentine told Kauffman he was coming over to his mother’s house.

Valentine pleaded guilty in October 2017 to discharging a firearm into an occupied building and was sentenced to a minimum of two years in prison, to be served concurrently with other burglary charges, District Court documents show.

Nevada Department of Corrections records show that Valentine, now 25, is serving his time at Ely State Prison.

Connie Land said her daughter was “terrified” in the weeks before she died.

One day, Land drove her daughter to work at the Palm restaurant in the Forum Shops at Caesars, and she remembered the young woman crying “hysterically.”

“That day I said, ‘Whatever is going on, we’ll protect you,’” the mother said. “And she said, ‘You can’t.’”

Connie Land said she believes one of the victims’ friends knows who killed the couple; they just haven’t come forward.

Las Vegas police confirmed Thursday that the case is active but would not comment further because of the open investigation.

Connie Land said her daughter was a force of nature: simultaneously powerful and healing. She loved children and planned to attend the College of Southern Nevada, possibly to go into the medical field.

“She reminded me of the ocean,” Connie Land said. “The ocean to me is so forceful, so powerful, so moving, so impactful.

But yet there are these elements that are so peaceful, so moving, so healing, and it’s hard to find something that’s such a force.”

The mother’s voice broke when she remembered her daughter’s kind gestures, like when she left supportive notes for her siblings to find.

Connie Land said that if a killer is caught, her family will just enter “another chapter of hell” with courtrooms and lawyers. But she is pushing Metro to solve the case for others who may have been victimized by whoever killed her daughter.

“The minute we stop the fight, this will be swept under the rug. This will go away, and it will just be an unsolved murder that sits in their desk and they move on,” the mother said. “I will not allow that.”

Contact Katelyn Newberg at or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

Lights FC coach Eric Wynalda lost his home in California wildfire
Eric Wynalda, coach of the Las Vegas Lights FC soccer team, talks about losing his home in the deadly California wildfires during an interview in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Nov. 17, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Women face issues from Essure birth control implants
DeVonna "Kat" Normand said she had complications from the Essure birth control implants. Normand uses her Sin City Heat show at 22.3 TakeOver Vegas Radio internet radio station in Las Vegas as a platform to raise awareness about Essure and connect with other women who have used the device. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Truancy and Clark County schools
Tony Stark, one of 23 attendance officers with the Clark County School District, have a tall order tracking down students who aren't in school.
North Las Vegas Water Meters
Randy DeVaul shows off the new water meters that the city is installing.
Project 150 Thanksgiving 2018
About 100 volunteers for Project 150 box Thanksgiving meals for high school students and their families in Las Vegas on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Three Square’s Maurice Johnson Talks About Food Waste
Three Square’s director of operations Maurice Johnson talks about food waste.
Parade preparation nears completion
Downtown Summerlin prepares for its annual holiday parade.
Clark County Wetlands promotes 2019 Wetland Walker Program
This year the park will be celebrating the Northern Flicker. The program is designed to teach about that bird, and encourage people to visit the Wetlands and walk the same distance the bird migrates each year.
Poet’s Walk Henderson introduces storytelling
Residents enjoy a storytelling activity.
Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
3 Pahrump residents arrested on false imprisonment charges
James Thatcher, 28 of Pahrump, Chelsea Demille, 30 of Pahrump, and Sandra Wombles, 19 of Pahrump were all arrested after it was discovered that they were holding an adult female and male prisoners in their bedroom. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
2 kids struck by gunfire in North Las Vegas shooting
On Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, people opened fire into a residence in the 3600 block of Hamlin Place in North Las Vegas. Two kids were hit by gunfire and sent to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to North Las Vegas police. Anyone with information is asked to call the NLVPD at 702-633-9111.
Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
16-year-old shot in North Las Vegas
A 16-year-old was hospitalized but was expected to survive after a shooting in North Las Vegas, near Centennial Parkway and Fifth Street, on Tuesday, November 13, 2018. North Las Vegas police spokesman Aaron Patty gives an update. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
3-year-old boy shot in North Las Vegas
North Las Vegas Police Officer Aaron Patty talks about an accidental shooting that left a 3-year-old boy “fighting for his life” on Nov. 10, 2018.
Senior Citizen Carjacking Attack -- 3 Suspects Sought
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police detectives are seeking the public's assistance in identifying the three attackers who carjacked and beat a 78-year-old man near Fremont and east Charleston on Tuesday. (LVMPD)
Henderson Police Department Chief Latesha Watson Talks Change
11-year-old girl shot, killed in North Las Vegas
An 11-year-old girl is dead after she was struck by gunfire Thursday night during a shooting in North Las Vegas
North Las Vegas police on deadly shooting
North Las Vegas police spokesman Eric Leavitt briefs the media about a shooting that left an 11-year-old girl dead on Nov. 1, 2018. (Katelyn Newberg/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Stephan Bonnar DUI Arrest
Stephan Bonnar arrested for DUI in Nevada.
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss
Family members of murder victims talk about their loss. Susan Nash, 52, was killed in a shooting along with her daughter and one of her three sons on Sunday night. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Sayegh Cold Case Turns 40
Cary Sayegh was abducted from the playground of the Albert Einstein Hebrew Day School in Las Vegas in 1978. His body has never been found. (File Photo)
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vehicle of Interest in January Homicide
Las Vegas police released footage Friday of a “vehicle of interest” from a deadly shooting in January. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Hostage escapes clutches of robber before shooting
Metropolitan Police Department footage shows a man wearing a motorcycle helmet, identified by police as 27-year-old Mario B. Trejo, with one arm wrapped around a woman’s neck and held a handgun to her head.
Sunset Park Vigil
A small group of people gathered in Sunset Park to remember the three children recently killed in the area.
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like