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Coroner rules ‘Fantasy’ dancer died from asphyxiation

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Jason Griffith, right, is charged with murder in the death of dancer Debbie Flores Narvaez.

Updated Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011 | 3:13 p.m.

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LasVegasSun.com reporter Jackie Valley discusses the death of Luxor "Fantasy" dancer Debora Flores Narvaez on CNN's "Nancy Grace" program.

Police news conference

Debora Flores Narvaez

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Debora Flores Narvaez, the missing Luxor dancer whose body was found Friday dismembered and placed in concrete in plastic tubs, died of asphyxiation due to neck compression, the Clark County Coroner's Office said.

A tip led police to discover her remains Friday in tubs at an apartment near Bonanza Road and Las Vegas Boulevard. Her ex-boyfriend, 32-year-old Jason Griffith, was charged Friday in connection with her murder. The coroner on Tuesday officially ruled the death a homicide.

A memorial service for "Debbie," as she was known by family and friends, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday at St. Viator Catholic Church, 4246 S. Eastern Ave.

"My little sister Debbie didn't deserve such an unimaginable outcome. She had such a beautiful & passionate soul," her sister, Celeste, wrote on a Facebook page dedicated to the search. The family plans to bury her in Puerto Rico, where she was born.

New details emerged Monday in the murder of Flores Narvaez with the release of a police report for Griffith.

According to the report, Griffith and Flores Narvaez became involved in a domestic dispute at his North Las Vegas residence. The couple, according to police, had a violent relationship with three previous reports of domestic violence being filed with the department. In one of the three events, Griffith was listed as the victim; in the two others, Flores-Narvaez was the victim.

An acquaintance of Griffith contacted police Friday to report he tried to leave Flores Narvaez's body, which was in concrete in a plastic tub, at her residence Dec. 15. Griffith and his roommate, Louis Colombo, left the woman's residence when she "freaked out" after being told Flores Narvaez's body was in the tub, according to the report.

The woman told police she hesitated to alert authorities because she didn't want to believe Flores Narvaez was dead and she was afraid of Colombo.

Detectives questioned Colombo on Friday about Flores Narvaez's disappearance and he gave the following version of events, according to the police report:

Flores Narvaez came to the residence he shared with Griffith the night she disappeared and got into a violent altercation with Griffith. At one point, Colombo said he "had to pull Griffith off of Flores Narvaez because he was choking her with his hands around her neck," according to the police report.

When Colombo returned to the house on Russian Olive Street in North Las Vegas later that night, Griffith confronted him at the front door and led him to Flores Narvaez's dead body in another room.

The two then mixed concrete and poured it over Flores Narvaez's body in a plastic tub. The next day, they rented a U-Haul truck and tried to store it at an apartment belonging to Griffith's friend in Henderson.

When that didn't work, they eventually decided to leave the tub at the house of Colombo's friends, who were out of the country.

After the tub started leaking at its new location, Colombo told police Griffith returned with new plastic tubs, a sledge hammer, a handsaw and cleaning supplies from Walmart. The two broke Flores Narvaez out of the concrete, and Griffith allegedly dismembered her body before placing it in two separate tubs and filling them with concrete.

Before leaving the residence, they sealed the closet doors and the tools in another room.

After interviewing Colombo, police executed a search warrant at the apartment on Bonanza Way, where they found the plastic tubs as described by Colombo, according to the police report.

Police met Griffith at the Mirage Resort and Casino as he left work late Friday night. Griffith denied any involvement in the death of Flores Narvaez when questioned by police that night and into Saturday morning.

When police arrested him after the interview, Griffith allegedly told a detective en route to the Clark County Detention Center that Flores Narvaez's death was "not a premeditated thing."

Police said Saturday that more arrests are possible in the case, but Colombo has not been arrested so far, according to inmate records at the Clark County Detention Center.

Flores Narvaez’s sister, Celeste Flores Narvaez, told KSNV Channel 3 on Monday that she hopes Griffith is handed the death penalty.

"I don't understand how someone could have such a demonic mind to thought your plan out and do this to my sister," she said.

Flores Narvaez, a part-time dancer in Luxor's "Fantasy" show and a two-year resident of Las Vegas, was last seen the evening of Dec. 12 leaving her apartment near Las Vegas Boulevard and Tropicana Avenue.

Celeste Flores Narvaez, of Atlanta, told the Sun in December that her sister's roommate contacted their family in Atlanta on Dec. 13 when Flores Narvaez failed to show up for a late-night dance practice and show at the Luxor. Celeste Flores Narvaez has said Griffith told their family she left his home the previous night before the season finale of the television show "Dexter."

"I want to see him face to face. I want to see him dead in his eye," Celeste Flores Narvaez told KSNV on Monday. "I want to know every moment -- every detail."

Griffith is being held in the Clark County Detention Center without bail. He is scheduled to appear before a judge Tuesday morning in North Las Vegas Justice Court.

Griffith worked as a performer in Cirque du Soleil's "The Beatles LOVE" show at the Mirage. Officials from Cirque du Soleil declined to comment Monday about his legal situation.

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