Child Murder Suspects Arrested in Juab County

Child Murder Suspects Arrested in Juab County

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LAS VEGAS (AP) -- A 3-year-old girl was killed Wednesday and her 10-year-old sister critically wounded in a butcher knife attack in a trailer outside a casino where their mother was gambling, authorities said.

Police said a 19-year-old man and two women surrendered without incident after troopers stopped them Wednesday morning in neighboring Utah, about 260 miles northeast of the stabbing attack in the Nevada desert town of Mesquite.

The three were detained in Nephi, Utah, in the assault at the CasaBlanca casino-resort recreational park, but had not been charged, said Lt. Jerry Hafen, a Nevada Department of Public Safety spokesman.

The girls were attacked just before 2 a.m. inside a recreational vehicle trailer outside the CasaBlanca, about 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas near the Utah state line.

The children, their unemployed mother and the woman's boyfriend were living at the CasaBlanca, police said. Hafen said the mother and her boyfriend went inside the casino to get something to eat, leaving the girls in the trailer.

Hafen said the couple also played a slot machine, and were confronted by a man who demanded they pay him $125. Authorities suspect a friend of the 19-year-old had taken the $125 from him to repay money she owed the couple.

Hafen said the couple were still in the casino when the girls were attacked.

Mesquite police were called by CasaBlanca security guards, and the first officer to arrive found the 3-year-old girl unconscious in the bloody trailer.

"The 10-year-old said a man knocked on the door and told them that their mommy had been hurt," said Joe Szalay, Mesquite deputy police chief. "When she opened the door, he held his hand over her mouth and started to stab her. That's the last thing she remembers."

The deputy police chief said at least one of the girls was stabbed more than five times.

The 3-year-old was pronounced dead at University Medical Center in Las Vegas, where she and her sister were taken by medical helicopter, authorities said.

Hospital spokesman Rick Plummer said the older girl was unconscious in the pediatric intensive care unit. Hafen said the girl is expected to survive.

Szalay declined to identify the girls' mother or the woman's boyfriend. He said they were at University Medical Center, where Plummer said they were declining comment.

Police are searching for the butcher knife, Hafen said.

Szalay called the stabbing the worst case he'd seen in 13 years as a police officer. He described the suspects as a 19-year-old man and his younger sister, and said they drove away in a white 2000 Honda Accord with Nevada license plates.

McCleve said Utah troopers spotted the car driving northeast on Interstate 15 near Nephi moments after receiving a bulletin from Mesquite police. They were stopped about 7:45 a.m.

Utah Highway Patrol spokesman Doug McCleve said a 19-year-old man, his girlfriend and his younger sister were being detained at the Juab County jail. It is not clear when they will be returned to Nevada.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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