North Las Vegas police suspect missing girl, 3, died in August

Updated March 19, 2019 - 4:19 pm

A loud thud came from Ricky Beasley’s bedroom late on Aug. 21, a newly released arrest report shows. It would be the last time anyone other than Beasley and his girlfriend saw 3-year-old Zaela Walker alive.

Beasley’s mother told North Las Vegas police that the thud woke her up, and she ran into the hallway. There, she found Beasley carrying Zaela, who was crying.

As he shuffled the girl into a bathroom, he told his mother that he had thrown a cot against a wall out of anger after Zaela had wet herself, according to the arrest report.

Beasley, the girl’s mother, Lakeia Walker, and Zaela disappeared the next day.

Those details had not been reported before Tuesday, when the three-page arrest report for Beasley and Walker, both 27, was released by the North Las Vegas Justice Court.

To date, Zaela’s body has not been found, but in the report, Detective Paul Freeman wrote, “During the course of my investigation, I have determined that Ricky and Lakeia are both culpable in the disappearance, murder and subsequent disposal of Zaela Walker.”

The family’s disappearance was first reported Aug. 25 to the North Las Vegas Police Department by Zaela’s maternal grandmother, Carla Richardson.

By then, Richardson hadn’t seen her granddaughter for nearly two weeks, she told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in November. During that period, she said, Walker repeatedly told her in phone conversations that Beasley had taken Zaela to California to visit her paternal grandfather.

Leaving Las Vegas

On the day Zaela’s parents left Las Vegas, the two had abandoned their phones, Walker’s wallet and her car at Craig Ranch Park, according to the arrest report. Then they drove to a remote area near Kyle Canyon Road, where they decided together to leave Las Vegas.

A search of the phones later revealed that Beasley had completed a series of Google searches that day, including “how to stop seizures in children.”

Over the next several weeks, police found, the couple traveled up and down California and then east across the country, passing through states such as New Mexico, Texas, Illinois, West Virginia, Florida and Tennessee.

Walker later told police that they slept in the car at rest stops along highways and never stayed in one location for long.

By Sept. 17, the two had run out of money, leading the two back to Las Vegas for about two days “with the intention of obtaining Lakeia’s bank cards and identification,” according to the report.

Walker met with one of her cousins while in Las Vegas but disappeared again after her cousin asked about Zaela.

“Lakeia told her that she was with a friend and that she is fine,” Freeman wrote in the report. “Lakeia disappeared without any further discussion.”

Their first encounter with law enforcement since their reported disappearance happened the following week, when they were stopped by U.S. Border Patrol at the California-Mexico border after two days in Tijuana, the arrest report stated.

San Diego police questioned the couple about the missing persons report, but the two were released after they denied being endangered and reassured officers that Zaela was with Beasley’s family.

Houston traffic stop

Details of the couple’s whereabouts wouldn’t come again until Nov. 17, when they were pulled over in Houston for a traffic stop. When the officer ran their names, the officer learned that the family had been reported missing.

The couple were detained and questioned, at which point they became uncooperative, police have said. Beasley refused to talk, according to the arrest report, but Walker again claimed that Zaela was with Beasley’s family.

The two eventually were released, despite Texas investigators reaching out to Beasley’s relatives, who confirmed that they did not have Zaela, according to the report.

That run-in with Texas officials prompted North Las Vegas police to announce for the first time on Nov. 30 that Zaela had gone missing under suspicious circumstances.

The next day, Zaela’s parents were taken into custody after being spotted at the Lucky Club on the 3200 block of Civic Center Drive. Beasley was arrested on charges of first-degree kidnapping and child abuse in connection with Zaela’s disappearance.

Walker’s arrest would come months later.

Before Walker was taken into custody Friday, the arrest report stated, Freeman interviewed her several times and did a polygraph test on her with the help of the Las Vegas FBI.

She failed, according to the report.

“She always claimed that Zaela was with Ricky’s people,” Freeman wrote. “I believe that Zaela suffered an unknown traumatic/health-related injury, which resulted in her death. I believe Ricky and Lakeia disposed of and concealed her body, and subsequently went on the run, withdrawing all contact from family members and friends.”

Both parents now face a murder charge in Zaela’s disappearance and on Monday were ordered held at the Clark County Detention Center without bail.

They will be arraigned Wednesday morning in North Las Vegas Justice Court.

Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter.

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