Monday, Dec. 31, 2012 | 12:01 p.m.
As late as Christmas Day – two days before the body of 10-year-old Jade Morris was found in North Las Vegas – the woman last seen with the girl refused to answer Metro Police detectives’ questions about the girl.
What Brenda Jean Stokes, 50, didn’t know at the time was that a day earlier, detectives serving a search warrant on her Windmill Lane apartment had found blood on a pantsuit that matched a description of the garments Stokes was wearing when she picked up Morris on Dec. 21, according to a Metro arrest report released Monday. Police also had impounded the car Stokes had borrowed that day, and discovered blood evidence in it, the report said.
Morris already was in custody in the Clark County Detention Center on charges related to a Dec. 21 attack of a blackjack dealer at the Bellagio Casino. The incident took place about 9:30 p.m., four and a half hours after Stokes had picked up Morris at her home for an outing.
The arrest report, released by the Clark County District Attorney’s Office, gives a timeline and further details into the Morris’ disappearance.
Stokes picked up Jade Morris around 5 p.m. Dec. 21 in a red, 2007 Saab that Stokes had borrowed from a friend. Stokes had bee involved in the child’s life for about 4 years and was considered a “stepmom” to the girl, family members told police. Stoke had said they were going Christmas shopping and was expected to bring Morris home sometime later that night, the report said.
Around 7:15 p.m., Stokes was by herself when she returned the vehicle to her friend, Eddie Hunter. Stokes used the car again to go home and change out of a jumpsuit jacket with a floral design, the report said. A short while later, Stokes returned to Hunter’s home. Hunter then drove Stokes to the Cosmopolitan, where she said she was going to meet a friend.
Around 9:30 p.m., police were called to the Bellagio casino, where a woman armed with two razor blades attacked a blackjack dealer. The victim, Joyce Rhone, suffered severe cuts to her face. Police said a patron pinned the assailant to the ground to stop the attack. The assailant, police said, was Stokes.
Had she not been stopped, Stokes reportedly told police, “I would have whooped that ass. I would have killed her.”
Shortly after 1:15 p.m. Dec. 22, when the 10-year-old girl had not returned home, her mother, Tejuana Reeves-Morris, reported her daughter missing. Reeves-Morris told police her daughter had gone with Stokes the previous day. A record check by the Metro report taker showed Stokes had been arrested in the Bellagio.
Later Dec. 22, police went to Stokes’ last known residence in hopes of finding Morris but found nothing.
On Dec. 23, police contacted Stokes in jail to ask what happened to Morris. Stokes denied knowing Morris or her mother and refused to answer further questions, police said. The same day, police went to a second address they had found for Stokes, the Everett Apartments at 7227 W. Windmill Lane. But police still could not find the missing girl.
Later Dec. 23, police contacted Hunter, who talked about loaning her car to Stokes on Dec. 21 and also described what Stokes was wearing when she saw her that day.
Armed with a warrant, police on Christmas Eve searched Stokes’ apartment, where they found the dark jumpsuit with a floral design. There was blood on it, prompting investigators to ask Morris’ family members for a blood sample so they could conduct a DNA test, the report said. The same day, the Saab was impounded.
Just after noon Thursday a man walking his dog in North Las Vegas told police he had happened upon the body of a young, black female. The next day, the Clark County Coroner’s Office confirmed the body was that of Morris. The coroner said the cause of death was multiple stab wounds. He classified the death as a homicide.
Forensic analysis of the blood found on the garments collected at Stokes’ apartment was completed Friday and came back as a match to Morris’ DNA, the report said.
Stokes was rebooked on murder and kidnapping charges.
She remains in jail on a $600,000 bond and is due back in Las Vegas Township Justice Court on Wednesday.