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Suspect in Las Vegas wedding theft released from jail

Updated February 12, 2020 - 5:45 pm

The man arrested Tuesday on suspicion of stealing gift cards and money from a Las Vegas wedding was released from jail while prosecutors investigate his case.

Matthew Ralphs, 28, smirked while Justice of the Peace Joe Bonaventure read the ruling Wednesday afternoon. A prosecutor said he needed more time to gather information, and Ralphs was released on his own recognizance.

He faces felony charges of burglary and grand larceny and is expected back in court Feb. 26.

A recently released arrest report said Ralphs was caught on security footage sneaking into the Emerald at Queensridge wedding venue through a side entrance and stealing cards from the card box at a wedding Saturday evening.

Alex Westmoreland, the sister of the groom, posted the security footage on Facebook, hoping someone would recognize the man who stole the gifts. Multiple people commented on the post claiming the man was Ralphs, and Las Vegas police confirmed the identification, according to the report.

Police found his driver’s license photo in DMV records and said he looked just like the man in the footage, including “a very distinctive depression on his upper right forehead area that appeared to be from some past injury,” the report said. Ralphs had no prior arrests but did have a warrant out for a traffic citation.

Henderson Police Department records showed that Ralphs had called in March to report that another person had attempted suicide, according to the report. The department gave the Metropolitan Police Department Ralphs’ phone number, but when officers tried to call the number, it went straight to voicemail.

Officers visited the address where the March call had been made and found Ralphs’ mother, who said she had seen the story on the news and told her son to turn himself in. She said he had been “involved in a bad accident where he sustained serious head/brain trauma” and then became addicted to prescribed opiates. She told police Ralphs was addicted to heroin and that he and his girlfriend had moved in with his grandfather.

Police took Ralphs into custody at his grandfather’s house. They searched his room and found 10 gift cards under the comforter on his bed, most with unknown values, the report said. They also found “a ziploc bag with several folded pieces of tin foil with black burnt residue.”

Ralphs told police that he had stolen the money because his girlfriend is pregnant. He said he threw the cards and checks in a dumpster and put $250 in the glove box of his girlfriend’s car.

His girlfriend told police she didn’t think there was any money in her car, and police weren’t able to find any in the vehicle. She said Ralphs had given her $110 to help with rent on Saturday night and that she was confused because “he never has money.” She gave the $110 to police.

The Westmoreland family told police that they had compiled a partial list of gifts people said they had given at the wedding. “The list showed that at least $950 in cash, a $200 check, $100 Amazon gift card and $100 Benihana gift card were missing,” according to the report. Police said Ralphs stole more than $650 in cash, but the bride said in an email Wednesday evening that more than $1,600 in cash was taken.

Contact Alexis Egeland at aegeland@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0335. Follow @alexis_egeland on Twitter.

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