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Deborah Flores-Narvaez: Death of a Showgirl

Deborah Flores-Narvaez: Death of a Showgirl
Deborah Flores-Narvaez, 31, who always went by "Debbie," left the small Las Vegas, Nev., condominium unit she had occupied for about six months on the evening of Sunday, December 12, 2010. It was 7 p.m. when she entered her maroon 1997 Chevrolet Prism bearing Maryland license plates, according to video surveillance in the parking garage of the condominium complex. Her residence is located only a couple of blocks off the Strip on Duke Ellington Way, just behind Hooters Casino Hotel on Tropicana Avenue and not far from Liberace's former home. According to police, she was wearing black knee-high boots, a dark shirt, and dark jeans. The parking garage's surveillance video also showed that she was carrying a black, medium-sized purse or bag with a shoulder strap, and a white, medium-sized gym bag.

A dancer who had performed in the Fantasy stage show at the Luxor Hotel and Casino for about a year, Flores-Narvaez had the early part of the night off and was going across town to the North Las Vegas home of her ex-boyfriend, Jason "Blu" Griffith, 32, to watch the season five finale of Showtime's hit drama, Dexter. At some point that evening, Flores-Narvaez disappeared without a trace.

Hours later, at midnight, Flores-Narvaez was scheduled for rehearsal with the Fantasy show at the Luxor, but she missed it. The rehearsal manager recorded her as a "no call no show." She also failed to show up for the show's Monday performance at 5 p.m. By then, people were becoming concerned about her well-being, and Shannon Hammitt, a friend who lived out of state, called the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) when she learned of Flores-Narvaez's failure to show up for rehearsal and a performance. Hammitt informed LVMPD dispatch about Flores-Narvaez's plans to visit with her ex-boyfriend, and patrol officers were sent to Griffith's residence, located on the 3600 block of Russian Olive Street, on December 13 to see if she had, in fact, shown up as planned.

Griffith, himself a dancer in another popular Las Vegas show, Cirque du Soleil's The Beatles LOVE — a stage show set around a compendium of Beatles songs — at The Mirage, told the officers that Flores-Narvaez had, in fact, shown up at his house and that he had last seen her on December 12 at 6 p.m. Griffith, also an aspiring rapper, told the officers that she had been fine and that she had left his residence in her Chevrolet Prism.

Later that same day, Las Vegas resident Theresa Howey called LVMPD at approximately 4:15 p.m. to report a vehicle parked in a back yard on the 4500 block of East Carey Avenue in Las Vegas, near Lamb Boulevard. The car's description closely matched that of Flores-Narvaez's car. However, given the volume of such calls received on any given day, the call wasn't linked to Flores-Narvaez's case for a couple of days. In the meantime, as far as everyone was concerned — especially Flores-Narvaez's worried family and her co-performers — Flores-Narvaez was simply missing under very suspicious circumstances.

Missing Person Investigation

Sonya Sonnenberg
Sonya Sonnenberg
On Tuesday, December 14, Flores-Narvaez's roommate, Sonya Sonnenberg, called the LVMPD to report that Flores-Narvaez and her car were missing. Sonnenberg told police about Flores-Narvaez's plans to watch Dexter at Griffith's home, and said that the plans had been made for 5 p.m. on December 12th. Sonnenberg's account of Flores-Narvaez's plans for that evening appeared to leave a discrepancy in the timeline, however, that was not immediately explained. Video surveillance in the parking garage of her condominium complex placed her there at 7 p.m. If the system's time-stamping feature was accurate, she couldn't have gone to Griffith's home in her own car at 5 p.m., left there at 6 p.m. and ended up leaving her own parking garage again at 7 p.m., unless she had gone back to her condo for some unknown reason. Something just wasn't adding up yet.

The next day at approximately noon, according to an LVMPD police report, Detective R. Garris went to Jason Griffith's home in an effort to obtain additional information. When Garris arrived, he found Griffith in the driveway changing the right rear tire of his 2005 black two-door Chevrolet Cobalt. The detective noted that Griffith seemed reluctant to make eye contact with him, complaining that he was in a hurry and needed to get to work, but was otherwise cooperative. Griffith told Garris that he last had contact with Flores-Narvaez during the late evening hours of December 12. She was in her car at the time, which she did not get out of or leave. He said that he had spoken to her through the driver's side window of her Prism, and that she had been alone inside the car. Griffith told the detective that they'd had a normal conversation, and that she then left because she needed to get to her rehearsal.

Hadn't Griffith earlier told officers that he had last seen Debbie at 6 p.m.?

Despite the apparent discrepancy between his statements, investigators told reporters that Griffith was being cooperative and did not name him as a suspect.

"Every missing persons case has potential to have foul play involved, but at this point we have found no indication of foul play," LVMPD Lt. Rob Lindquist said. Lindquist said later that investigators "do believe she did not have contact with anyone after [meeting with Griffith]."

Meanwhile, a flier describing Flores-Narvaez and her car was quickly put together and distributed throughout the community by the LVMPD Missing Persons Detail. Flores-Narvaez was described as originally from Puerto Rico, approximately five feet, five inches tall, 120 pounds with brown hair and brown eyes. According to a relative, she liked to wear bright colors, and had a faded "joker" tattoo on one of her ankles. She was a ballroom, Latin and hip-hop dancer who had worked for the Washington Redskin Cheerleader Ambassadors in 2007 and 2008, according to her MySpace page. She also had attended school in Maryland before moving to Las Vegas. Her MySpace biography said that she had earned a bachelor's degree in international business, as well as a law degree.

"I am well-cultured, quick-witted, intelligent, considerate and humorous," her biography stated. "I'm blessed with a substantial amount of common sense."

The Mystery Deepens

On Wednesday, December 15, 2010, Theresa Howey called LVMPD again and this time spoke with an officer from Code Enforcement about the car in the backyard. After describing the vehicle in detail, Code Enforcement officers paid her a visit. When they saw the car, they believed it was the one described in the flier distributed by the Missing Persons Detail. One of the officers contacted dispatch and provided the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). A short time later they received a hit from the FBI's National Crime Information Center (NCIC) indicating that the mystery car, the rear license plate of which had been removed, was indeed Deborah Flores-Narvaez's Chevrolet Prism.

Flores-Narvaez missing poster
After making the NCIC hit, crime scene analysts went to the location to begin processing the car's exterior before moving it to a more secure location, the idea being to collect and preserve any evidence that might be present on the outside of the car. The car's trunk was opened at that time so that police could verify that Flores-Narvaez was not inside. As it turned out, she was not. After a crime scene technician processed the exterior of the car and surrounding area for clues and photographed both thoroughly, the car was towed to a secure area where the interior would be examined carefully.

A vacant and apparently abandoned structure at the East Carey location was also searched for evidence and any sign of the young woman, to no avail. Detectives later noted that the East Carey location where the car was found was about six miles from Griffith's residence and approximately 18 miles from Flores-Narvaez's condo.

"Hopefully this will help them find her," Howey said. "Hopefully somebody left something behind to help find her."

She also noted that investigators had found Flores-Narvaez's purse.

A Violent Relationship

As the investigation of Flores-Narvaez's disappearance continued, Detective Garris performed a background records check on Jason Griffith. He discovered three prior reports indicating that the relationship between the couple appeared to have been a violent one. In one report, Griffith was listed as the victim and Flores-Narvaez as the suspect. In the other two reports, Flores-Narvaez was listed as the victim and Griffith as the suspect, and in one of those incidents Griffith had been arrested for domestic battery and coercion.

According to police records, Garris learned that Griffith called the North Las Vegas Police Department (NLVPD) on October 9, 2010, to report that Flores-Narvaez was at his home harassing him. When officers responded, Flores-Narvaez told them that two days earlier Griffith had head-butted her while she was sitting inside her car, causing her to break the windshield wiper-washer lever on the steering wheel column. Garris noted that officers documented the broken windshield wiper lever by photographing it.

At approximately 1:30 a.m. on Friday, October 22, 2010, Flores-Narvaez and Griffith purportedly got into an argument on a Las Vegas street over her iPhone, according to People.com. At one point he reportedly grabbed the phone and threw it about 100 feet. When Flores-Narvaez bent over to pick it up, she told police, he kicked her and pulled her hair. A clump of Flores-Narvaez's hair was found in the vicinity of the altercation, and it was photographed and collected as evidence. Police also noted bruises on both of her legs. Flores-Narvaez claimed that she was pregnant with Griffith's child at the time of the incident. However, the disposition of the purported pregnancy remained a mystery.

Griffith confirmed the argument over the iPhone, but denied hitting Flores-Narvaez or taking the phone, according to police reports.

Griffith and Flores-Narvaez had been dating for approximately one year, and, according to friends and relatives, it was a volatile relationship that seemed to be on again and off again. Their relationship resumed following the fight over the iPhone.

"It was a rocky relationship from what I understand, a lot of ups and downs," Celeste Flores-Narvaez, Flores-Narvaez's sister, told People.

Some people, including Griffith's former theater coach, Gerald Gordon, were obviously surprised when he heard about the domestic violence charges.

"He was one of the best people I had worked with... absolutely dependable, honest and talented," Gordon said. "I saw him a few weeks ago. He has a new girlfriend, and he seemed very happy. I would have recommended him for anything."

People also reported that Flores-Narvaezhad worked as a go-go dancer at the Rain nightclub inside the Palms Hotel and Casino, and had appeared in a hip-hop music video of Griffith's for a song called "Sex Gamez" in which she was shown licking Griffith's bare chest.

Flores-Narvaez's sister, who lived in Atlanta, flew to Las Vegas to help in the search for her sister after being contacted by Flores-Narvaez's roommate after Flores-Narvaez failed to show up for rehearsal.

"She knew something was wrong when my sister didn't show up for practice," Celeste said. "My sister is always at practice... She's very creative. She loves dancing. She loves people and being around her friends... [and] wears her heart around her sleeve."

In the meantime, as the investigation into Debbie's disappearance continued, a Las Vegas judge set an April 14, 2011, preliminary hearing date for the domestic violence charges. Those charges consisted of one misdemeanor and one felony.

Warning Signs

As investigators probing Flores-Narvaez's disappearance continued to work back the timeline in their inquiries, they learned that on Monday, November 8, 2010, a friend of Griffith's, Gerald Gordon, had contacted NLVPD expressing concern about Griffith's welfare. According to police reports, Hill had received a text message from Griffith that caused him to believe that Griffith was suicidal. When officers responded, Griffith was not at home. However, they found him on a nearby street sitting inside his car texting. At that time an officer completed a "Legal 2000," a legal procedure that gives law enforcement and medical professionals the right to hold a person believed to be suffering from mental problems for evaluation for up to 72 hours. Griffith was transported to Mountain View Hospital and held for a short time before being released.

Later, however, on December 17, 2010, Marcia Christensen, a former girlfriend of Griffith's, contacted Detective Garris and told him that she had received a text message from Griffith on December 7 or 8 in which he had purportedly asked her if she knew where he could obtain a gun. Apparently he was unable to purchase or possess a gun because of his prior arrest for alleged domestic violence. What he had planned to do with a gun, had he obtained one, was a mystery.

Police revealed that Flores-Narvaez had sent an ominous text message to her mother several days before she disappeared. Her mother, Elise Narvaez, who also lives in Georgia, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the message read: "In case there is ever an emergency with me, contact Blu Griffith in Vegas. My ex-boyfriend. Not my best friend." Her mother said that Flores-Narvaez had instructed her to keep the message for her records.

"I asked Debbie what it means," her mother said. "And she says, 'Never mind, mommy. Just keep it for your records.'"

"To me it doesn't make any sense," her sister, Celeste, told Fox 5 Vegas. "Just, like when you're texting really quick, to me it doesn't make sense... I think there is foul play somewhere. My sister isn't the type of person to leave and be gone this long."

A number of Debbie's friends set up a donation fund on Facebook, where Debbie reportedly had thousands of "friends," and $4,000 was quickly raised as a reward for information about what may have happened to the beautiful dancer.

"Somebody knows something, somebody saw something," her sister said in an emotional plea for information. "You don't have to say your name. Just call the police. It's the holidays. Please bring her home for the holidays."

As for Griffith, Celeste told People that he has been uncooperative with the family in providing them with detailed information about the case.

"He doesn't want to sit down and talk to me," Celeste said. "There are so many inconsistencies."

Foul Play?

By Tuesday, December 21, 2010, LVMPD investigators were treating Debbie's mysterious disappearance as foul play, even though detectives remained hopeful that the search for the missing woman would have a happy outcome, Lt. Rob Lindquist told the Las Vegas Sun. Lindquist said that detectives were examining text messages, e-mails, cell phone records, and postings on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, as well as talking to family members and others. Nonetheless, Lindquist acknowledged that the case could have a negative outcome.

"She may have left on her own," Lindquist said. "However, we are taking this and treating it very seriously. At this point, we're going to look at every aspect into this investigation as if there was foul play."

Griffith, Lindquist said, was considered a person of interest in the case, but detectives were not yet considering him a suspect.

"We know he has had a relationship with Deborah, so we are still speaking with him, and we are still looking into that matter," Lindquist said. "Even though we know he had a conversation with Deborah, we are also looking into all other aspects of this investigation."

The next day, without publicly discussing their leads or evidence in the case, detectives applied for and obtained a warrant to search Griffith's home. Although they did not publicly disclose the leads that supported the search warrant, an LVMPD report showed that missing persons and homicide detectives had found a receipt from the Flying J Truck Stop located on East Cheyenne Avenue for a container of bleach and two microfiber sponges. The receipt was dated December 15, 2010, three days after Debbie had disappeared.

The New Year brought with it a major break in the mysterious case. At approximately 10:45 p.m. on January 5, 2011, Detective Garris was contacted by a colleague, Detective L. Cho, according to a police report, who told Garris that a friend had passed information to her about a witness, later identified as Kalae Casorso, who recounted that she had been approached by Jason Griffith and another person, who asked that they be allowed to store something at Casorso's apartment. Cho said that Casorso had become very upset when she asked Griffith about the plastic tub filled with concrete that Griffith and the other man, Louis Colombo, described as Griffith's roommate in police reports, had allegedly brought to Casorso's apartment because Griffith had allegedly said, "Debbie is in there."

As a result of the new information, investigators obtained evidence in the form of rental agreements and surveillance footage indicating that Griffith and Colombo had rented a truck and two utility dollies on December 14, 2010, at 10:52 a.m. from a U-Haul rental outlet on West Craig Road. The equipment was returned to the U-Haul outlet at 4:25 a.m. on December 16, 2010, during non-business hours, and the keys were deposited in a drop-box. Video surveillance footage depicted two males matching Griffith's and Colombo's descriptions placing the keys in the drop-box and then leaving in a black Chevrolet Cobalt.

The rental truck was equipped with a global positioning system (GPS), which allowed detectives to recreate Griffith's and Colombo's movements on the days the truck was rented to them. In the meantime, investigators obtained a recorded statement from Casorso regarding her encounter with Griffith and Colombo.

Casorso's Statement

According to Casorso's statement to police, which was included in the LVMPD report and appeared in a number of media outlets, Casorso told that Griffith had asked her if he could store some things in her apartment until he was ready to move. She said that she told Griffith that she didn't have much space, but that he could come over and determine if the items in question would fit inside a closet or perhaps be stored outside on her patio, exposed to the elements. Griffith had shown up at her apartment at 11:00 p.m. on December 15, 2010, to discuss the matter, but she hadn't realized that he had brought the item, a plastic tub, with him until he left her apartment to get it.

Casorso told investigators that she heard a creaking noise outside her apartment, looked outside and saw that the sound was coming from a U-Haul truck's back doors that were swaying side-to-side. She went outside and observed Griffith and Colombo standing on either side of a large, light-blue plastic tub that was nearly full with dark, charcoal-grey concrete. It appeared rocky on the surface, and one of the tub's sides bulged outward. She asked Griffith what the tub contained.

She explained that Griffith appeared hesitant to respond at first, then asked her if she really wanted him to tell her what was inside the tub. When she responded that she needed to know its contents before allowing him to store the tub at her apartment, he told her that the tub contained Flores-Narvaez. She recounted that she freaked out, telling Griffith and Colombo to leave and to remove the tub. She said they then left, with Colombo driving the truck and Griffith driving his black Cobalt.

Casorso said that she hadn't called the police immediately because she didn't want to believe that what she had witnessed and had been told was true, and also because she was afraid. It was later, she said, that she decided to confide in a friend who knew someone at the police department because she needed help handling the situation.

Colombo's Statement

Jason Griffith
On January 7, 2011, at approximately 6:40 p.m., investigators brought Louis Colombo to the LVMPD homicide unit to give a statement. According to the police report, Colombo agreed to tell the detectives what had occurred if he would not be arrested or prosecuted with regard to the case because, he said, he did not have anything to do with Flores-Narvaez's death nor did he have any part in the planning of it. Authorities have not said whether they entered into an agreement with Colombo yet; it was said that he had asked for leniency for admitting that he helped Griffith dispose of Flores-Narvaez's remains and that his alleged involvement was still being investigated. In any case, it should be noted that an agreement not to prosecute would have to come from the district attorney.

Colombo declared that, on the night Flores-Narvaez disappeared, she and Griffith had become involved in a physical confrontation in which Colombo had had to pull Griffith off of Flores-Narvaez because he had been choking her with his hands. Colombo said that everything had been okay when he had left the house at 8:20 p.m. to take a relative to another relative's house. At approximately 10:30 p.m., he had received a text message from Griffith asking that Colombo not bring his girlfriend back to the house with him.

When Colombo arrived back at the Russian Olive Street house, he said he had been met by Griffith at the front door. Griffith allegedly told Colombo that this was a "change your diaper moment." At that point, Colombo told investigators, Griffith had walked him to their studio room and showed him where Flores-Narvaez lay dead on the floor. Colombo said that he had then become sick and had to use the bathroom. When he returned, he recounted, Flores-Narvaez lay in the exact position in which she had been when he left the room. He said he could see that she was not breathing, and she was cold to the touch when he assisted Griffith in placing her body into the plastic tub.

Colombo told police that Griffith cut off Flores-Narvaez's clothing before placing her into the plastic tub, and described how Griffith had taped her legs, knees to chest, in such a manner that her body would fit into the tub face up. Using bags of concrete purchased at a Home Depot near their home, which Colombo said they mixed in the garage, they filled the tub with concrete so that it covered Flores-Narvaez's naked corpse and left it in the garage to harden overnight.

The Body

After renting the U-Haul truck the next day, Colombo said, he and Griffith had used a dolly to move the tub up the loading ramp and into the truck. After attempting to store the tub at a location that Colombo did not identify, an effort they had given up after being unable to get the tub to the second floor of the building in question, they had parked the truck overnight at the Flying J Truck Stop near their house.

The next day, Colombo said, Griffith obtained keys to a house that belonged to friends who were on an extended trip out of the country. Colombo said that he had gone to the house, located on Bonanza Way near downtown Las Vegas, by himself and attempted to move the tub into the house. However, the tub began leaking and he called Griffith for assistance. They kept the tub in the living room of the house for a couple of days, but returned with new plastic tubs, a sledge hammer, a handsaw, and cleaning supplies purchased at a Walmart several miles away near the Fiesta Hotel Casino on North Rancho Drive.

Back at the house, they broke Flores-Narvaez's body out of the concrete using the sledge hammer. Colombo said that Griffith had sawed off both of Flores-Narvaez's legs with the handsaw, and they had placed her legs and body in plastic bags and then into two plastic tubs, which they filled with enough concrete to cover her remains. Afterward, he said, they had placed the tubs inside a closet and sealed the closet doors. Colombo said they closed the tools they used inside a closet in another room of the house, but left the first plastic tub and the broken pieces of concrete in the living room.

Following the interview with Colombo, detectives obtained a search warrant for the house on Bonanza Way where Colombo said that Flores-Narvaez's remains had been taken. Police arrived only minutes past midnight on January 8, 2011, and they immediately observed a broken blue plastic tub and broken chunks of concrete in the living room. The investigators observed a larger piece of concrete inside the tub, which still held the impression of a hand and a large amount of long, dark hair. The living room window was covered with a large sheet of black plastic, and the window in the southeast bedroom was covered with a blanket and sealed around the window frame with what appeared to be spray foam insulation, according to police reports. It could have been a scene right out of Dexter, but it wasn't: this was a macabre reality.

There were two bedrooms inside the house, the closets of which were also sealed off with what appeared to be spray foam insulation. The investigators found two green plastic tubs inside the closet of the southeast bedroom, stacked on top of each other, with the lids secured by locking handles. When they opened the tubs, they observed that they contained black plastic garbage bags that had been covered with concrete. It was later determined that the plastic tubs contained Flores-Narvaez's dismembered remains.

Investigators also found the tools that Colombo had described, sealed in the closet of the house's northeast bedroom.

Arrest and Cause of Death

Later that same day, at 11:50 p.m., Griffith left work following a performance of Cirque du Soleil's The Beatles LOVE show at The Mirage. Detectives were waiting for him. They approached him and asked if he would be willing to accompany them to their office to answer some additional questions they had about Flores-Narvaez's disappearance, and assured him that he was not under arrest at that time, according to police reports. Nonetheless, Griffith brought up the fact that his Miranda rights had not been read to him, prompting one of the detectives to say that he would be happy to read Griffith his Miranda rights prior to investigators asking him any questions. While en route to their offices, Griffith called and left a message for his attorney and explained what was going on.

Prior to questioning, one of the detectives read Griffith his Miranda rights, after which he signed and initialed a card indicating that he understood those rights. At first, Griffith denied having anything to do with Deborah Flores Narvaez's death. He admitted, however, that he had rented a U-Haul truck, but said he had done so in order to pick up a punching bag stand from a location in northwest Las Vegas. When they confronted him about having driven the truck to Henderson, he claimed that he had gone there to pick up additional work-out equipment from a friend's house. However, he refused to name the friend. He told the detectives that he was in possession of the truck's keys at all times except when Louis Colombo drove the truck to pick up the punching bag stand while Griffith provided driving directions.

When they asked him specific questions related to Flores-Narvaez's death and the disposal of her remains, Griffith told the investigators that he didn't want to respond without the presence of his attorney. The interrogation concluded, detectives arrested Griffith in connection with Flores-Narvaez's death. Griffith was subsequently taken to the Clark County Detention Center, where he was booked and jailed.

During the trip to jail, Griffith continued to talk with one of the detectives and allegedly made statements that what had happened "was not a premeditated thing and that it was a heat of the moment thing that happened," according to Fox 5 Vegas. He also reportedly told the detective that Flores-Narvaez had attacked him and that he had always believed she had a gun, according to a police report. When it was agreed that no one would believe that, Griffith allegedly said that Flores-Narvaez had "forced him to do what he did." He also reportedly told the detective that "after it happened, he did all the amateurish stuff afterwards," according to a police report.

At the jail, Griffith allegedly told the detective that Louis Colombo only became involved after Flores-Narvaez was already dead, and that Colombo "really didn't know what was going on," according to the police report. When the detective offered to take Griffith's official statement, he refused. Few other details emerged at that point.

"It's a very complicated case," Lt. Lew Roberts said after the arrest. "This was a very high-profile case. We made an arrest on a suspect, and in the interest of providing a good prosecution we can't go any deeper."

Three days later, the Clark County Coroner's Office reported that Flores-Narvaez had died of asphyxiation due to neck compression and ruled her death a homicide. In other words, she had been strangled.

Remembrance and Indictment

On Friday, January 14, 2011, at a memorial service held inside the Fantasy show's theater inside the Luxor Hotel and Casino, friends and colleagues recalled how Debby Flores-Narvaez's life had been filled with passion, and described her as a strong-willed perfectionist who was never afraid to speak her mind with her producers and choreographers. She was also described as a kind person who was generous to those in need. Fantasy producer Anita Mann said she had possessed a hard work ethic.

"She cared," Mann told the crowd of friends and performers. "There was nothing she would not do. She wasn't that fantastically trained, but she attacked [dancing] with a vengeance... that's the way she attacked life, full out with a vengeance and a passion."

Mann described how she had sent Debbie a text message after she disappeared and failed to show up for rehearsal, asking, "Are you OK?" She never received a reply, and the Fantasy cast and crew would not understand the true significance of her absence until a month later. Mann said that at first she "got mad" when Debbie missed rehearsal, but "half an hour later I wasn't mad; I was concerned."

On Wednesday, February 9, 2011, a grand jury indicted Jason Griffith on one count of murder in the death of Deborah Flores-Narvaez. He was formally accused of strangling her to death, dismembering her body, and concealing it in two concrete-filled tubs. The indictment allowed the case to proceed without the preliminary hearing that had been previously scheduled, permitting the case to be somewhat shielded from the public and national media attention before trial. District Judge Linda Bell ordered that Griffith be held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center.

Griffith pleaded not guilty at his arraignment before Judge Donald Mosley on Wednesday, February 16, 2011, and only spoke when asked a question by the judge. Mosley set Griffith's trial date for November 28, 2011.

"I think it's ridiculous," Flores-Narvaez's sister, Celeste, told Fox 5 Vegas by telephone after the arraignment. "He's being a coward. He should be man enough to say, 'I'm guilty,' and get it done and over with and save everybody the grief. He could have stopped this the first time when his roommate stopped him from choking her. He could have just left it alone, and he actually decided to do it again and take her life. He knew what he was doing."

Griffith's attorney, Jeff Bankschief, told the news station that mounting a defense for his client was going to be challenging.

"We're going to have our work cut out for us," Bankschief said.

In the meantime, Griffith has denied all requests to be interviewed about the case, and police officials have indicated that additional arrests are possible.


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