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Relatives reeling after Henderson mom, son found dead; neighborhood in shock

Updated Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013 | 12:10 p.m.

Click to enlarge photo

Adrian Navarro

Mom, son found dead

Trembling and bleary-eyed, Ana Karen Martinez sat on a curb in front of her aunt’s apartment Friday night, shaking off the irrational urge to send a text to coax her outside.

“The coroner just got here,” she said in disbelief as tears rolled down her cheeks.

Martinez’s aunt and cousin, 10, had been lying lifeless inside their home for what may have been days by then. Officers made the discovery shortly after noon inside the Summit at Sunridge apartment complex after Martinez called 911, worried that her aunt had not shown up for work at the Venetian’s kitchen.

Though authorities have not yet officially identified the pair, relatives said the dead mother is Elvira Canales, 40, and her son is Cesar Navarro. Spokesman Keith Paul could not say late Friday how long the bodies had apparently been undisturbed inside the home, though Canales and the boy had not shown up for work or school since Wednesday. Police are treating their deaths as homicides, but officials are not yet saying how they appeared to have been killed, citing the ongoing investigation.

Detectives now are searching for Canales’ eldest son, Adrian Navarro, 16, who was missing from the home when officers arrived. His involvement in the death of his relatives, if any, remained unknown late Friday.

“It’s killing me,” Martinez said. “I just want him back. What if somebody did this to them and took him?”

Paul said there were no calls for service to the family’s home before a welfare check prompted the discovery of the bodies, and relatives said the family did not have a turbulent past.

The boys’ father, who lives in California, declined to speak about the incident on Friday. As relatives embraced and wept silently in the darkness, an employee with the Clark County Coroner’s Office approached, asking them to move away while the bodies were taken from the home.

“I’m sorry we have to meet under these circumstances,” the employee told Martinez, who translated in Spanish for the rest of the family.

The deaths rattled neighbors, unaccustomed to seeing police activity within the gates of their peaceful apartment complex. They were the fifth and sixth slayings this year for Henderson, a suburb known for its low crime rate.

“I thought it was drugs, or a burglary at worst,” said Huey Davood, who lives near the building where the bodies were discovered. “This is a good community.”

Some, like Blake Cumbers and girlfriend Chelsee Barber, said that though incident was shocking, it appeared isolated.

One mother fought back tears after reading reports of the slayings. P. Terry, who declined to give her full first name out of fear for her family’s safety, said she turned off the TV news that night so her daughters, 10 and 8, wouldn’t grow frightened. But she wondered: What if the boy went to school with her eldest child?

“For someone to bring harm to a child ... that’s demonic,” Terry said. “They’re capable of anything.”


Anyone with information about the case is urged to call the Henderson Police Department at (702) 267-4750 or, to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at (702) 385-5555 or visit Tipsters could get a cash reward for information that leads directly to an arrest or an indictment processed through Crime Stoppers.

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