Suspect in Las Vegas manicurist’s death ID’d through car evidence

Updated January 10, 2019 - 10:25 pm

The woman suspected of killing a Las Vegas nail salon employee in December was identified after police tracked her recent purchases and found fingerprints in a stolen rental car, according to her arrest warrant.

Krystal Whipple, 21, is accused of hitting 51-year-old Nhu “Annie” Ngoc Nguyen with the car and dragging her about 50 feet Dec. 29 outside Crystal Nails &Spa, 4983 W. Flamingo Road.

Whipple left the salon without paying for $35 acrylic nails, according to the warrant, which the Metropolitan Police Department released Thursday.

Surveillance footage shows Nguyen, a manicurist, jumping in front of the car after Whipple left the salon without paying. Nguyen’s boyfriend is seen clinging to the back of the car as it drives away.

Nguyen died at University Medical Center of blunt force injuries, and the Clark County coroner’s office ruled her death a homicide.

Police said Whipple fled the scene and abandoned the car at a nearby apartment complex. As of Thursday, she had not been arrested.

The car had been rented from a local company by a woman using a fake ID, the warrant said.

An “unattended vehicle” sticker from the North Las Vegas Police Department, beverage bottles and receipts were found in the car — a gray Chevrolet Camaro with a missing rear window.

A receipt led detectives to Fairway Chevrolet, 3100 E. Sahara Ave. It showed the purchase of an “automotive engine” hours before Nguyen’s death, the warrant said. A sales representative told detectives that a woman picked up her purchase from the dealership Dec. 29. She had arrived in a silver Nissan pickup with an unknown man, the warrant said.

Detectives linked fingerprints from the car and the bottles found inside to Whipple.

Surveillance footage from the salon, the apartment complex and the dealership matched Whipple’s picture from a prior arrest.

Police also tracked the license plate from the Nissan seen in the dealership’s surveillance footage to a local residence. There, the person to whom the plates were registered told police they had been stolen.

The North Las Vegas police sticker led detectives to a residence where the vehicle was declared unattended.

Police records showed license plates from the Camaro and the stolen plates on the Nissan had been recorded parked near the residence, the warrant said. Neighbors told detectives the occupants recently were evicted.

Calls from detectives to a phone number Whipple was reported using have gone unanswered, and she had deleted her social media accounts, the warrant said.

Whipple’s mother and grandmother appeared on national TV Sunday, begging the 21-year-old to turn herself in.

“You can’t run baby. You cannot run,” Whipple’s mother said through tears in an interview with ABC News. “You have to come forward baby.”

The two women were not identified during the interview, and Whipple’s mother said she had been unable to reach her daughter.

Whipple faces charges of murder with a deadly weapon, robbery with a deadly weapon and burglary, her warrant shows.

Spencer said Saturday that homicide detectives had been working every day since Nguyen’s death to find Whipple. It was unclear Thursday if there were any new developments in the case.

Anyone with information about Whipple is urged to call police at 702-828-3521 or Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555 to remain anonymous.

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

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