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‘She needs justice’: Slain Las Vegas woman remembered on 1-year anniversary

Tabatha Tozzi’s many friends have coped with her loss in different ways since the 26-year-old Las Vegas woman was slain a year ago.

They have supported each other in group chats. They wear T-shirts that say “Tabby Tribe” or that call for justice for Tozzi. One of Tozzi’s friends got a tattoo of Tozzi’s eyes on the back of her hand.

For Tozzi’s mom, the pain has been overwhelming.

“It’s been a tough, tough year, and it’s a very hard day for me to be here today,” Regina Lacerda said.

The grief-stricken Lacerda was joined by dozens of people whose lives were touched by Tozzi in some way — many of them Tozzi’s close friends — during a gathering Wednesday at Craig Ranch Regional Park in North Las Vegas to mark the one-year anniversary of Tozzi’s killing and to celebrate her life.

“We all have to be her voice now,” said Sydney Read, 29, a friend of Tozzi’s who created some of Tozzi’s tattoos.

‘I’m here because I need justice’

As Read spoke about her late friend, tears began to stream down her face.

“We all have to represent her and show the world how important her life is. Not was. Is,” Read said. “And she needs justice. And she needs to be remembered.”

That call for justice is something that has continually been vocalized by Tozzi’s mother and her friends since Tozzi was fatally shot on April 22, 2023.

“I’m here because I need justice,” Lacerda said. “I thought about doing a protest today but we decided to … instead of the protest, we decided to celebrate her life.”

According to the Metropolitan Police Department, Tozzi’s then-boyfriend, Oswaldo Natanahel Perez-Sanchez, shot Tozzi in the head amid an argument while they were both in Tozzi’s car just before 11 a.m. that Saturday in the 8100 block of Leger Drive just west of South Cimarron Road and north of Alta Drive.

“This is still an open investigation, and no arrest has been made yet,” a Metro spokesperson said in an email Wednesday.

Tozzi was taken to University Medical Center, where she died two days later. Wednesday was the one-year anniversary of Tozzi’s death.

Perez-Sanchez, now 27, managed to get away and hasn’t yet been caught, a fact that angers Tozzi’s mother and her large community of friends.

“I keep getting stuck on that detail of the morning of and how there really was a small window to catch him, and now it’s become more difficult because we don’t know where he is,” said Judith Vaughs, 28, who was a close friend of Tozzi’s.

According to the FBI’s poster — which advertises a reward of up to $30,000 for information that would lead to his arrest — Perez-Sanchez, who was born in Las Vegas, has ties to or may visit Southern California and Mexico.

Tozzi’s mother and friends have repeatedly urged Perez-Sanchez, whom they knew as “Nate,” to turn himself in.

“I always say, whenever I have a chance, Nate, if you’ll listen to me, if you’ll hear me, turn yourself in,” Lacerda said. She alleged he took Tozzi’s life because Tozzi didn’t want to be with him anymore, and he couldn’t accept that.

Sky-bound blue balloons

The attendees at Wednesday’s gathering then formed a large circle in the grass. In the middle of the circle, Lacerda was joined by Tozzi’s two close friends, Alicia Lozoya, who got Tozzi’s eyes tattooed on her hand the day before, and Ashley Galvan, and a few others.

Dozens of blue balloons — Tozzi loved blue, her mother said — were released into the sky.

Several people spoke and shared their memories of Tozzi, and then Lacerda, crying and looking up at the sky, spoke to her daughter, saying that she hoped Tozzi was happy up there and that she would fight for justice for her baby girl until her last breath.

Vaughs was at the park on Wednesday with her sister Madeleine Howell, 26, and their parents David and Deborah Howell, who thought of Tabatha as another daughter.

“There was a lot of different people in Tabatha’s life and I think this is reflection of her community,” Vaughs said of the large turnout of people on Wednesday.

Galvan said many of Tozzi’s friends, including her mom, support each other in group chats including one called “Tabby Tribe.”

“Compared to a year ago,” Galvan said, “I feel like I’ve learned to live with the grief, but I haven’t overcame it.”

Contact Brett Clarkson at bclarkson@reviewjournal.com.

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