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June 29, 2017

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Community bands together at site of where burned body was found

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Steve Marcus

Metro Police Officer Dave Wheatley, left, Krystal Heath, center, and Jo’faith Bolden, 5, compete in a sack race during a outreach event sponsored by the Metro Police Department and Liberty Baptist Church at a northwest apartment complex Tuesday, March 14, 2017. Police are seeking the public’s help after a teen’s burned body was found at the complex Saturday.

Metro Hosts Outreach Event After Killing

A makeshift shrine is shown against the rear wall of a northwest apartment complex Tuesday, March 14, 2017. Police are seeking the public's help after a teen's burned body was found at the complex Saturday. Launch slideshow »

In front of a charred, secluded wall of a Las Vegas apartment complex sits a makeshift memorial: a lighted red candle, a cross-and-heart-shaped vase that holds artificial yellow flowers, and a stuffed dog and turtle that flank it.

This tucked-away corner of the complex — at 737 Rock Springs Drive, near Rainbow Boulevard and Washington Avenue — is where officers made the grisly discovery of a teenage girl’s burned body Saturday morning.

On Tuesday night, Metro Police detectives continued searching for clues into the weekend slaying and the girl’s identity, a day after releasing a sketch of what she might have looked like.

And earlier in the evening, officers and clergy took to the neighborhood for a block party, of sorts, to try to provide spiritual and police support to the residents. Attendees munched on hot dogs and snacks and children were given a platform to play games.

The officers were there more to listen to residents than to ask questions, Capt. Rich Fletcher said. The event served as an opportunity to meet community members and let them know that police are there for them. Maybe they'll come forward with tips that can help solve this case or feel comfortable to assist with a future one, he added.

This didn't mean the officers under his command aren't eager to make an arrest in Saturday's slaying, Fletcher said.

Click to enlarge photo

Sketch of victim

“Murder is murder; homicide is homicide, and each one is horrific in its own way; however, when you have a person willing to burn another person, that’s a problem,” he said. "Someone made an intentional act and tried to burn a human body, and if that doesn’t shock you … we have a problem.”

Children jumped on a bounce house, a parking space served as a bowling lane, and church volunteers handed out chips and drinks.

"It’s wonderful,” resident Jodie See said about the event. “They’re just trying to bring the community together and talk to people.” About the crime, she said: "I think it's just horrific. I'm so saddened right now. What saddens me more is they don't know who she is."

Resident Yolanda Reyes said the girl's death has her shaken up enough that she's considered moving away from the complex. She described a panic attack she had because of it. "I was shocked and I didn't know how to react on Saturday, until (Monday)."

Here's what police know about the slaying.

On Saturday morning, a passer-by called 911 about 11 a.m. to report a suspicious discovery. That discovery turned out to be the body of a girl who had been killed and then set on fire. The flames stained the tall wall overlooking a park.

The victim was described as a light-complected black girl ages 16 to 20 who stood about 5 feet, 4 inches, and weighed about 100 pounds, police said. She wore her short hair in braids.

Details on how she was killed have not been provided, but investigators believe the slaying preceded the fire, police said.

A distraught Westine Parker arrived at the complex Tuesday evening and spoke about a homeless friend who hung around at a nearby neighborhood and who she only knows by a moniker.

With tears on her cheek, Parker explained that she last saw her on Thursday and that she looks identical to the photo sketch released on Monday.

“When I saw that sketch — the hair, the nose, the weight, the teeth — you don’t get a chill for nothing,” Parker said.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Metro at 702-828-3421. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555 or online at crimestoppersofnv.com.

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