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Teen Lured Out By Mob-Obsessed Pals, Bashed with Tire Iron, Shot and Buried in Vegas-Area Desert

The grisly slaying of Jared Whaley shocked detectives. “This wasn't a normal murder," said an investigator. "This was butchery on a corpse."

By Joe Dziemianowicz

On October 26, 2003, a 911 call led Boulder City, Nevada police to a body buried in a shallow grave about 25 miles from the Las Vegas Strip.

How to Watch

Watch Sin City Murders on Peacock or the Oxygen app.

The grim discovery in a dry desert lake miles from the tourist-packed Strip shocked officers, according to Jeffrey Lomprey, a now-retired Boulder City Police Department detective.

"This was a decomposing human being. It was extremely disturbing,” Lomprey told Sin City Murders, airing Sundays at 7/6c p.m. on Oxygen.

Excavated under the supervision of Stephanie Fox, a now-retired forensic anthropologist with the Henderson Police Department, the body was wrapped in garbage bags.

“I could see there was major damage to the face and the head of the victim and to the chest area,” said Jerry Stone, a retired Boulder City Police detective.

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"Butchery on a Corpse"

“This wasn't a normal murder. This was butchery on a corpse,” Lomprey said.

A search of the scene turned up a burn pile, buttons from Wrangler jeans, empty liquor bottles, and a portion of a Nevada driver’s license.

Roughly 1,000 feet away, investigators found a larger and deeper hole that had been recently dug.

The coroner estimated the body had been in the desert for about two weeks and determined that the victim was a white male, possibly in his early 20s.

The victim’s lower face and most of his teeth had been obliterated. “Whoever did this, didn't want the victim to be known,” said Stacey Kollins, chief deputy DA with the Clark County District Attorney's Office.

Plastic wadding from a 20-gauge shotgun found in the body indicated the murder weapon. Fingerprints were taken and run through the AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System), but no match was found.

Jared Whaley featured on Sin City Murders episode 107

Detectives searched missing persons reports. A case caught their attention. On October 16 of that year, Jared Whaley, a high school senior a week away from his 18th birthday, was reported missing to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department by his mother, Patricia Knight.

On February 12, the victim in the desert was identified as Jared Whaley by investigators who confirmed the match using dental records.

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Who was Jared Whaley?

Whaley was born in Glendale, California. “I decided to move to Las Vegas after my mother moved here,” Knight, Whaley's mom, told Sin City Murders.

She described her son as well-liked and “a funny, natural, cuckoo kid.” He liked fixing cars and working out, and dreamed of joining the Marines.

“He loved his family,” said Whaley’s stepbrother Kyle Knight. “He loved his friends. He wasn’t scared of anything.”

When Whaley first went missing, Knight enlisted help from Nevada Child Seekers. In addition, Whaley’s inner circle, who called themselves “The Crew,” distributed flyers at local businesses.

“They kept coming over to the house and they’d say, ‘Have you heard from Jared?,’” said Knight. She added that her son “didn't have any enemies.”

Detectives search for motives in Jared Whaley's killing

Detectives considered possible explanations for Whaley’s murder. Was it a random act of brutal violence? A mob hit? A serial killer?

For Lomprey, who had a son the same age as Whaley, cracking the case became personal, he said.

Detectives canvassed Whaley’s home neighborhood for leads. When that turned out to be a dead end, they focused on his school.

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Classmates at Silverado High School in Las Vegas were stunned by Whaley’s murder. A member of The Crew informed police that on the night before he vanished, Whaley had been at an outdoor party spot called the Hill.

“We actually searched the Hill, checking to see if perhaps Jared was killed there and then buried in Boulder City,” said Stone. “But no evidence was recovered at the Hill.”

One witness told investigators that Whaley’s good friend, Matt Baker, bragged about beating up a student named Jamal, according to Christine Maddela, a former news anchor for Las Vegas station KVVU-TV.

Police considered that fallout from that fight may have led to Whaley’s murder. But Baker denied knowing anything about a fight or anyone named Jamal, according to Sin City Murders.

Nonetheless, detectives followed up the lead. A search of school district enrollment lists led to another dead end. “We were never able to determine there was a Jamal,” said Stone.

Jared Whaley featured on Sin City Murders episode 107

Investigators turn their attention to "The Crew"

Back at square one, investigators focused on The Crew members who saw Whaley at the Hill on October 14. That group included Baker, brothers Shane Myers and Cody Myers, Stephen Stringfield, and Shane Johnson, all in their late teens at the time.

According to Kollins, The Crew, which included Whaley, gave themselves that name “based on some of their interests in mafia movies.”

The gangster-obsessed Crew were known to pull off beer heists at local stores as well as acts of petty vandalism.

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Investigators began Crew interviews at the home of Shane and Cody Myers, where they observed a gun cabinet. All of the firearms in it were dusty except for a 20-gauge shotgun. It had been recently cleaned and oiled, detectives said.

A red flag sprung up and another one was raised when Shane Myers mentioned that Whaley had been killed with a 20-gauge shotgun. That detail of the grisly slaying hadn’t been made public.

Suspects emerge in Jared Whaley's murder

Stone told Sin City Murders that the teen’s comment made the hair on the back of his neck stand up. At the time, he said to Lomprey, “I think we just got a solid lead on this case.”

Detectives brought in each Crew member. Johnson revealed that Baker was the leader. “He was the godfather,” said Lomprey.

Johnson soon implicated The Crew in Whaley’s murder. He explained that when Baker got into selling drugs, Whaley tried to cut ties to the group.

Baker became suspicious. He feared that Whaley would rat him out. As a consequence, Baker was “concocting ways to try to kill him,” said Lomprey.

Investigators learned that The Crew tried to kill Whaley by poisoning him with pure nicotine and eye drops. Whaley got sick each time but survived.

Johnson told detectives that two weeks before Whaley disappeared, Crew members had gone to the desert to dig a grave.

Jared Whaley featured on Sin City Murders episode 107

Jared Whaley lured to his brutal death

On October 15, The Crew lured Whaley to party as a “last hurrah,” investigators said. Baker had assigned everybody a task for this murder.

In the desert, Johnson zapped Whaley with a stun gun. Shane Myers bashed Whaley with a tire iron. Cody Myers fetched the shotgun. And Baker shot Whaley twice at point blank range.

Whaley’s clothes were removed and burned. Before he was buried, he was bashed in the face to obscure his identity.

Crew members were arrested and detectives discovered that there never was a Jamal. The name was a code for Jared.

Investigators also learned that on the night of the murder, The Crew members couldn’t find the grave that had been dug, so they improvised a shallow one.

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Jared Whaley's "friends" sentenced for his murder

On November 3, 2006, The Crew was sentenced according to their roles in the murder. Stringfield received six months behind bars. Cody Myers got five years for voluntary manslaughter.

Shane Johnson received 20 years for first-degree murder. Shane Myers was hit with 25 years to life for murder. Matt Baker, the trigger man, was handed 35 years for an aggregated sentence for first-degree murder and kidnapping.

“I’m glad for how many years they're going to be in there,” said Knight. “I think they should spend the rest of their life in prison for taking my son's life.”

To learn more about the case, covered in the “Deserted in the Desert” episode, watch Sin City Murders, airing Sundays at 7/6c p.m. on Oxygen.