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Photos show concrete-encased structure where Las Vegas model’s body was found

Updated November 5, 2019 - 5:30 pm

A Las Vegas man pleaded not guilty Tuesday in the slaying of a 24-year-old model whose body authorities said was found encased in concrete.

Christopher Prestipino, 45, was indicted last week on murder, kidnapping and conspiracy charges in the death of Esmeralda Gonzalez.

Prestipino’s roommate, Casandra Garrett, 39, and his girlfriend, Lisa Mort, 31, also are charged in the slaying.

Garrett faces murder, kidnapping and conspiracy charges, while Mort faces one count of harboring, concealing or aiding a felon.

Garrett remained jailed in Wisconsin, where she was arrested last month. She is awaiting extradition to face a judge in Nevada.

Court documents allege that Prestipino and Garrett killed Gonzalez “with a poisonous substance and/or by strangulation.” Her body was found inside a 250-gallon water tank that had been covered with concrete and wood about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas near Glendale, according to court records.

Metropolitan Police Department homicide Detective Tate Sanborn described for grand jurors who indicted Prestipino the structure as it was discovered in the desert.

“The top had been cut off, the contents filled with concrete and then a wooden structure built around that and then poured over that to fill up the void around the wood,” he said. “Unfortunately it ended upside down so the weight of it … landing upside down broke the wooden structure off from both sides and the extra concrete kind of crumbled off.”

Gonzalez’s body had been wrapped in blankets and bound by ropes and adjustable straps, with white tape around her head and neck, the detective said.

Gonzalez, who worked in the adult entertainment industry and had more than 300,000 followers on Instagram, lived about one-tenth of a mile from Prestipino.

Her Facebook profile indicated that she was from Michoacan, Mexico, and had studied at UNLV.

Investigators first identified her through jewelry found on her body, including a Chanel necklace and a Rolex watch, which matched jewelry she wore in photographs on social media.

Jurors also were shown a photograph of Prestipino’s bedroom, with a dancing pole at the foot of the bed and studio lights over the window. Prosecutors have said Gonzalez was tied up in the bedroom before she was killed.

According to court papers, Prestipino took extensive measures to hide Gonzalez’s body after he strangled her and injected her with pool cleaner.

Gonzalez was last seen alive in the pre-dawn hours of May 31, when she was captured on residential surveillance video trying to open the door to a home on the 9000 block of West Torino Avenue, less than two-tenths of a mile from Prestipino’s home.

In court papers, Prestipino’s lawyer, Bill Terry, argued that Prestipino was not a flight risk, saying that he had returned to Las Vegas from a short vacation and was arrested after leaving the airport last month.

But Chief Deputy District Attorney Pamela Weckerly said Prestipino may have had plans to travel as far as China before his arrest. He returned from Belize after telling Mort that “if everything’s cool,” he would come get her, according to court documents.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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