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The Disturbing Murders Behind Buried Bodies Dug Up from Las Vegas Deserts

Shocking homicides have turned Las Vegas desert landscapes into burial grounds. Sin City Murders covers some of these cases, and more.

By Joe Dziemianowicz

Between the gleam of the Strip, the buzz of the casinos, and the around-the-clock hum, Las Vegas vibrates with life. But you don’t have to dig deep to find that the city has a dark and even deadly side that’s lurking beneath the surface. It’s just waiting to be exposed.

How to Watch

Watch Sin City Murders on Peacock or the Oxygen app.

Oxygen’s Sin City Murders does just that by uncovering some of the most chilling homicides across the Las Vegas area. And it turns out that a number of murder investigations led to bodies buried in the Nevada desert.

Before the series premiere of Sin City Murders on Sunday, February 25 at 7 p.m. ET/PT, here's a look at some of the shocking cases that turned the desert landscapes of Las Vegas into cruel burial grounds.

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Mutilated teen dumped in a shallow grave

In June 2008, 17-year-old Nichole Elizabeth Yegge was reported missing. Two months later, her “naked and mutilated body” was found under a pile of rocks in a shallow grave in the desert, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in 2014.

A view of the Las Vegas Skyline from the desert

The coroner’s office determined that Yegge died by asphyxiation in a homicide. Gabriel Yates, then 31, and Anne Osburn, then 21, were arrested and charged with her kidnapping and murder, ABC News reported.

Las Vegas authorities said the couple arranged sex work for Yegge, who’d been living with them. When they told her to leave their place, Yegge said she’d turn them in.

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After Yegge was strangled, Yates “yanked her teeth out with pliers, then he sliced the tattoos off her skin” to conceal her identity before burying her body. She was identified by fingerprints, according to an August 2014 Review-Journal article.

Yates was sentenced to 20 to 50 years in prison. Osburn pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and received a sentence of eight to 20 years behind bars, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in 2015.

A view of the desert in Las Vegas

Woman’s body uncovered in desert, entombed in concrete

Esmeralda Gonzalez lived life on the edge as an adult entertainer. In late May 2019, she vanished into thin air.

Last seen alive on May 31 near a car dealership, she was “dressed only in lingerie and high heels, Las Vegas television station KTNV reported.

Gonzalez was dealing with mental-health issues, according to her brother, who reported her missing. For several months, her disappearance was a mystery.

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In July 2019, Las Vegas police received an anonymous tip that Gonzalez had been “killed by an unknown woman,” according to Oxygen.com. On October 8, 2019, Gonzalez’s body was found entombed in concrete in a remote Vegas desert area, according to the KTNV report.

Before she was buried, Gonzalez was strangled and injected with a toxic pool cleaner. Who could do something so unthinkable — and why? Sin City Murders covers the case in full.

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Teen beaten, blasted by shotgun and buried

Jared Whaley was a senior at Silverado High School in Las Vegas who had an eye on the future — getting a job and a car, and into the Marines. His plans were tragically snuffed out.

On October 14, 2003, about a week before he turned 18, he was picked up from his house late at night. He was told by those that picked up him up that they'd be going off-roading in the middle of the night. 

When Whaley never returned, his mother, Patricia Knight, contacted the police and missing children organizations. Where was her son?

Eventually, members of the public came across a decomposing body, identified later as Whaley, in a shallow grave in a dry lake bed in Boulder City, about 26 miles outside Vegas, the Las Vegas Sun reported. He had been beaten and blasted with a shotgun, investigators determined.

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Those behind the murder, including one individual who had a fascination with mob movies, according to Salon, lured him to what would become his grim burial ground with a promise of going four-wheeling. Find out who they were — and why they killed a teen with big dreams — on Sin City Murders.

Las Vegas

Bookie shot and buried under rocks

Bruce Charles Weinstein, 46, was a longtime professional gambler and bookie. He had a flair for flash, including his signature silver ponytail.

He was also a creature of habit who was very close with his mother, Sylvia White. So on July 6, 1996, a red flag went up when her son missed their daily morning phone call.

Investigators interviewed Weinstein’s live-in girlfriend Amy Rica DeChant for possible leads. DeChant had met Weinstein at a poker table at the Mirage casino in 1995, Oxygen.com reported.

DeChant initially claimed that Weinstein left their Vegas home at 11 p.m. on July 5 and never came back. White was skeptical. Weinstein left behind his cell phone — a bookie’s lifeline, the New York Daily News reported.

As investigators worked the case, DeChant changed her story. She said that Weinstein had been murdered by mob associates over his bookmaking business.

On August 11, hikers found Weinstein’s body buried under a pile of stones in the desert about 80 miles from Vegas. 

Initial suspicion had fallen on DeChant, whose inconsistent accounts put her in the spotlight. Before the case was resolved, the investigation would require a multi-state search, help from America’s Most Wanted, and a visit to a nudist colony.

Discover more about this case and other shocking Las Vegas homicides when Sin City Murders premieres on Oxygen Sunday, February 25 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.