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Christmas dinner invitation turns into sex assault, police say

A man who promised a woman Christmas Day dinner at his grandmother’s Las Vegas home instead led the woman to an abandoned house and sexually assaulted her, police said.

The assault was reported to police by the victim on Dec. 25, prompting an extensive investigation that led to the arrest of ex-con Henry Ebbie Smith, 43, of Las Vegas, on three counts of sexual assault. Police reports indicate Smith regularly uses the alias of Tony Rikko.

The arrest reports said that on Christmas Day, the victim was planning to get a hotel room on North Rancho Drive but couldn’t afford it. She was walking to a convenience store on Lake Mead Boulevard and Rancho Drive when she was approached by a man on a bike.

“The male placed his coat over (the woman) and asked her if she wanted to go to his grandma’s house for Christmas dinner,” an arrest report for Smith states.

The arrest report states the man also told the victim he was “a man of Christian faith.”

Took her to a gutted home

The woman started walking with the man who, instead of leading her to his grandma’s house, took her to a gutted home. There, the man started smoking drugs and proceeded to sexually assault the woman. After the assault, the woman left the property and called police.

Detectives found the residence where the assault allegedly took place, searched it and recovered physical evidence the victim had described to authorities. They also gathered surveillance video from a gas station that showed the man walking with the woman on the street.

Police subsequently received a tip leading them to a man who identified himself as “Tony Rikko” and who matched the description the victim provided, police said. Rikko was then identified by police as Smith, who lived five houses away from where the assault took place.

Smith was interviewed by Las Vegas police and, after being read his Miranda rights, said he was home all day on Christmas, opening presents, “chillin, movies and smokin.” Smith denied ever being near the gas station that day. He also said he has a good relationship with his girlfriend “since he has been released from prison” in August.

“Smith confirmed that his moniker was ‘Tony Rikko,’” an arrest report states. “Tony began when he first moved to Las Vegas and wanted to sound tough like Tony Montano (Tony Montana, the character in “Scarface”).”

Denied meeting her

Smith was shown video surveillance that showed the man walking with the victim near the convenience store. Smith denied knowing the woman or ever meeting her. After being shown more surveillance images, Smith acknowledged that the man resembled him.

“Yes, that looks like me,” Smith said, according to police reports.

Police reports indicate Smith was wearing a shirt during the interview that appeared similar to the shirt worn by the man in the surveillance images.

“Smith then recanted his claim that the photos looked like him and stated that there is another male in the area that looks almost identical to him,” the reports state.

Smith went on to claim the man in the neighborhood who looks just like him recently gave him the shirt in exchange for methamphetamine. He allowed police to look through his social media photos and police said they found a photo of Smith wearing a hoodie that appeared similar to the hoodie given to the woman the night she was sexually assaulted.

Nevada Department of Corrections records show Smith spent time in prison in 2013 for grand larceny and a second time, in 2017, for “unauthorized absence from assignment.”

Clark County District Court records show convictions for attempted theft and “unauthorized absence constituting escape.” Las Vegas Justice Court records show 13 separate criminal cases in which Smith was arrested, but in seven of those cases, charges were either dismissed or denied.

A preliminary hearing in case is scheduled for Feb. 4 in Las Vegas Justice Court.

Contact Glenn Puit at gpuit@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0390. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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