69°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Woman found dead in apparent murder-suicide recalled by son

Updated July 12, 2019 - 7:55 pm

After moving to Las Vegas from South Florida, Juliane Kellner got sober, bought a car, worked a fulfilling job and found her faith — a change that “completely turned her life around,” Kellner’s son said.

But a year and a half later, Kellner disappeared. On Wednesday, nearly two weeks after her disappearance, the 42-year-old mother of three was found dead inside a Henderson apartment in an apparent murder-suicide.

“She seemed like a whole different person, and that’s why she stayed,” Kellner’s son, 21-year-old Brandon Wilt, said when explaining his mom’s life in Las Vegas on Friday. “She was doing so well in life that she didn’t want to give up on that.”

Kellner was last seen alive by her roommate in their Las Vegas home on June 28. Kellner said she was “going to be shooting with a friend,” but never returned, Wilt said.

After Kellner missed work July 1, her roommate reported her missing, Wilt said. Kellner’s friends found a text message with a Henderson address in his mom’s phone, where they discovered her Volkswagen Jetta. The car was abandoned at Palm Villas at Whitney Ranch apartments, 650 Whitney Ranch Drive.

It was the same apartment complex where Henderson police found her body during a welfare check Wednesday. Wilt said after Kellner was reported missing, he contacted Henderson police and told Las Vegas police about the abandoned car, but a Metro detective didn’t call him until Tuesday.

The call came a day after a local TV station reported on Kellner’s disappearance, Wilt said.

He said a search warrant allowed officers to enter the apartment, where they found Kellner and a man’s bodies, he said.

The Clark County coroner’s office on Friday said Kellner’s death was a homicide from a gunshot wound to her chest. The man’s identity was pending.

Wilt said he believes Kellner met the man through a dating website, but she didn’t tell her friends and family who he was.

Kellner’s son voiced frustration that her body was not discovered sooner. He said before Wednesday, police had only knocked on the apartment’s door and tried speaking with neighbors.

“They let her sit in that freaking apartment,” Wilt said, his voice shaking. “We screamed and screamed and screamed to the police department — ‘you guys have got to go in that apartment.’”

Metropolitan Police Department spokeswoman Laura Meltzer confirmed Friday that Kellner’s roommate filed a missing person report on July 2.

No other details have been released by the Henderson Police Department, including Kellner’s connection with the man.

Metro spokeswoman Alejandra Zambrano said a missing adult could be considered endangered based on information provided by the person reporting their disappearance.

“It doesn’t matter that they’re an adult; we take the time and we try and figure out if this person is endangered,” she said. “We have criteria if the person reporting makes it seems the person was in danger.”

Zambrano said missing persons detectives were not available Friday afternoon to answer questions about Kellner’s case.

According to Metro policy, a missing adult is entered into the National Crime Information Center database if the adult has a disability, is in physical danger, disappeared under “involuntary circumstances,” are the victim of a “catastrophe,” or disappeared under “other suspicious circumstances.” The policy does not elaborate on what suspicious circumstances are.

‘Wanted to change her life’

In a January YouTube video, Kellner, wearing a blue blazer and black dress pants, speaks to her church group and smiles when talking about her faith. She also shares her past in Florida, which included drug addiction and sex work.

“I clicked on the video and as soon as she started talking, I just broke down and I couldn’t watch it,” Wilt said.

Wilt said his mother had a “rough past with drugs” and a criminal history. She was the victim of sex trafficking when she was a child, a trauma she struggled with for most of her life, Wilt said.

Kellner moved to Las Vegas to enter the Refuge for Women 12-month program, which provides long-term care for women who have “escaped human trafficking or sexual exploitation,” according to its website.

“She really wanted to change her life,” Wilt said.

Wilt said his mom, who was outgoing and could make “anybody laugh,” started speaking about her past at church to help people in similar situations.

Outside of church, Kellner had a love of fishing and hiking. In recent months, Kellner became more active through her job at the Las Vegas Athletic Club, where she was proud to work as a “top salesman,” Wilt said.

Wilt said his family was thrilled that Kellner’s life was going well in Las Vegas. She had even bought plane tickets for her 15-year-old twin daughters to visit her on July 5, a trip Wilt’s sisters had to cancel when Kellner disappeared.

Wilt wants his mom to be remembered as a wonderful person who connected with hundreds of people, he said.

“Knowing how good she was, there’s no doubt in my mind that she’s in heaven right now looking down on top of everyone,” he said.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writer Rio Lacanlale contributed to this report.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Crime Videos
Gustavo Ramos-Martinez, convicted of killing two elderly people, ordered to serve life in prison
Gustavo Ramos-Martinez, convicted of killing two elderly people, ordered to serve two sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Bizutesfaye
Paula Davis sings "On the Steps of the Palace"
Paula Davis sings “On the Steps of the Palace,” a song from the musical “Into the Woods,” at a Timeless Tonys performance in 2017. (Lissy de Jesus/YouTube)
Attorneys for Aryan Warriors request leaked documents
Defense attorneys for two Aryan Warriors members accused of murder and racketeering requested documents during a court hearing Wednesday after they were leaked to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Chance Underwood Preliminary Hearing Called Off - Video
Chance Underwood appears in court with his preliminary hearing called off but will have his hearing in October.
Man sentenced in DUI crash that killed former Metro sergeant’s son
Nineteen year old Alexander Brewer was ordered to serve five to 20 years behind bars Monday for a DUI crash that killed Garrett Meriwether, the son of a retired Las Vegas police sergeant.
Giovanni Ruiz, accused of shooting and killing his girlfriend, appeared in court
Giovanni Ruiz, a UNLV grad student accused of shooting and killing his girlfriend, Paula Davis, appeared in court during his arraignment at the North Las Vegas Justice Center. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Woman attacked, stabbed while sleeping in Las Vegas apartment
A woman awoke in her apartment to find another woman on top of her “stabbing her repeatedly,” according to Las Vegas police on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Rossi Ralenkotter appears in court
Ex-LVCVA CEO Rossi Ralenkotter appeared in court on Tuesday, Sept. 10 to face felony charges related to alleged theft of Southwest Airlines gift cards bought by the tourism agency.
Chuck Chaiyakul appears in court
Chuck Chaiyakul,accused of killing a woman and putting her body in a 55-gallon drum, appears in court on Friday. Sept. 6, 2019. (Angus Kelly/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Judge denies bail for man accused of sledgehammer murder
Clinton Taylor, the man accused of bludgeoning a woman he did not know with a sledgehammer while she was doing her laundry, appeared in court Wednesday. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Attorney argues for equal treatment for defendant - VIDEO
Attorneys for a Las Vegas man facing life behind bars for drug possession asked a judge this week to make sure he gets treated like a tech billionaire who avoided prison time in a similar case. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police believe woman's body is in 55-gallon drum (Part 1)
Metro Lt. Ray Spencer briefs the media on a homicide investigation where police believe a woman's body is in a 55-gallon drum in the southwest Las Vegas Valley (Alexis Egeland/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police beileve woman's body is in 55-gallon drum (Part 2)
Metro Lt. Ray Spencer briefs the media on a homicide investigation where police believe a woman's body is in a 55-gallon drum in the southwest Las Vegas Valley (Alexis Egeland/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Damion Dill sentenced in shooting of 11-year-old-girl
Damion Dill was sentenced to 50 years in prison Tuesday, following the shooting death of 11-year-old Angelina Erives last November. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas sledgehammer killing suspect ordered held without bail - VIDEO
Clinton Taylor, the man accused of randomly bludgeoning a woman to death with a sledgehammer early Thursday at a Las Vegas laundromat, was ordered to be held without bail on Friday. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Members of white supremacist prison gang arraigned in Las Vegas - VIDEO
Members of the violent white supremacist prison gang known as the Aryan Warriors were brought before Judge Doulas Herndon for their initial arraignments on Thursday in Las Vegas. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Man arrested in face stabbing incident - VIDEO
A man was taken into custody Thursday morning after allegedly attacking his mother at a home on the southwest side of Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police investigate sledgehammer homicide - VIDEO
Metropolitan Police Department homicide Lt. Ray Spencer talks to the media about a woman who was attacked and killed by a man using a sledgehammer, early Thursday morning, Aug. 29, 2019 (Sabrina Schnur/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police fired 6 shots to end standoff at Laughlin casino - VIDEO
SWAT officers fired six rounds Monday morning when they fatally wounded an attempted robbery suspect who pointed a weapon at officers following an hourslong standoff in the Aquarius casino parking lot in Laughlin. (Angus Kelly/Las Vegas Review/Journal)
Off-duty Officer Exchanges Gunfire With Suspect
Las Vegas police Capt. Nichole Splinter briefs the media on a shooting involving an off duty police officer on August 21, 2019. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department/YouTube)
Paul Browning Released from Ely State Prison - VIDEO
Paul Browning greets his mother, Betty Browning, after being released from Ely State Prison. Browning served 33 years on Nevada’s death row. (Rachel Crosby/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Armed robbery suspect killed in officer-involved shooting at Laughlin casino
An armed robbery suspect was killed by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers after six-hour standoff outside the Aquarius Casino in Laughlin on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspect dead after officer-involved shooting at Laughlin casino
An armed robbery suspect is dead after a nearly seven-hour standoff the Aquarius Casino in Laughlin ended with an officer-involved shooting. (Mat Luschek / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Second officer-involved shooting of 2019 for North Las Vegas Police Department
North Las Vegas Police hold a press conference about the second officer involved shooting of 2019. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Road Rage Homicide Suspect Van
Video shows a van Las Vegas police believe was involved in a deadly road rage incident on August 5. Police announced on August 26 that they have recovered the van. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Las Vegas police look for armed robbers
Police are seeking two men involved in an armed robbery Monday, Aug. 5, 2019, on the 7500 block of North Cimarron Road, near Farm Road. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Las Vegas police searching for video related to road rage homicide
Lt. Ray Spencer of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Homicide Section is asking for clues from the public to solve a murder from Aug. 5. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
Jury hears closing statements in killing of 17-year-old
Closing statements began today for Jaiden Caruso and Kody Harlan charged in the death of 17-year-old Matthew Minkler. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CCSD to vote on shooting settlement
The Clark County School Board will vote Thursday on a $100,000 settlement for the mother of Dalvin Brown, the Canyon Springs High School student who was shot and killed on school grounds at the beginning of last school year. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police find 2 dead in northwest valley home
Las Vegas homicide detectives are investigating after two people were found dead in a home Friday night in the far northwest valley.
Teen talks about alleged sexual assault at Las Vegas grocery store
A 17-year old says she was groped and then sexually assaulted by a loss-prevention specialist at an Albertsons store in east Las Vegas. The subject's voice has been distorted to protect her identity. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Court hearing For 17-year-old Who Was Found Dead Begins - Video
An image that captured blood pooled near the head of a 17-year-old’s lifeless body appeared on monitors inside a Las Vegas courtroom Wednesday, as prosecutors gave opening statements in the murder trial for two teens charged in Matthew Minkler’s death.
Purse Theft Occurs at Suncoast - Video
Purse theft occurred July 24 at Suncoast just after 930 pm.
Woman accused of trafficking an 11-year-old girl in Las Vegas - Video
A woman accused of trafficking an 11-year-old girl on the Strip agreed to plead guilty to a child abuse charge, her attorney said. Gigi Mitchell, 40, faces several counts of child abuse and one count of child sex trafficking. The 11-year-old girl told social worker Felicia Tucker that she was a “hustler” and entered nightclubs where she drank and flirted with men.
Federal officials fail to keep criminal undocumented immigrants from reoffending
ICE and the DOJ courts say they are trying to remove undocumented criminals. But statistics show the courts are doing less than a decade ago. (Art Kane/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Gragson crash seen in surveillance video
Newly-released video reveals more details around Scott Gragson crash, including Gragson arguing with a guard over allowing cars to follow him to his home. Video from a resident’s security camera shows the vehicle crash on a median. And police bodycam footage shows Gragson talking to an officer after the crash. (Grand Jury Exhibits)
Woman accused of stealing $1M from company makes court appearance
Donna Blizniak, the Las Vegas woman, who is accused of stealing more than $1 million over the course of five years from Nevada’s largest alcohol distributor, appeared in court on Thursday, July 25, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ex-Metro detective accused of killing her former son-in-law appears in court
Pamela Bordeaux, a Las Vegas former detective, who is accused of shooting and killing her former son-in-law, appeared in court on Thursday, July 25, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas police address latest office-involved shooting
Metro police officials provided details on Monday, July 22, 2019, during a media briefing about an officer-involved shooting, which occurred on July 17 in east Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Steve Meriwether talks about his son, who was killed by a drunk driver
Retired Metro sergeant Steve Meriwether talks about his son, Garrett Meriwether, who was killed by a drunk driver. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Las Vegas Metro Police holds press conference about Oct. 1 report
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo held a press conference on Wednesday, July 10, regarding a new report about the police department's performance during Las Vegas shooting on Oct. 1, 2017. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Convicted killer Margaret Rudin awaits word on parole

An attorney for Margaret Rudin, convicted in the 1994 murder of her millionaire husband, said the 76-year-old prisoner could be paroled as early as December.