LAS VEGAS — The sixth anniversary of the murder of Las Vegas teen Joseph Lopez is quickly approaching and the person or persons responsible for his death have not yet been apprehended.
Joseph Lopez was only 17 years old when his lifeless bullet-ridden body was discovered on April 28, 2008, in a storm drain on West Tropicana Avenue near the 215 Beltway in Southwest Las Vegas.
Lopez was in his junior year at Spring Valley High School and had attended school that day. He returned home from school, went out and promised he would be back soon.
Less than two hours after he left his home Joseph Lopez was murdered.
The unsolved murder of Lopez has tormented his family and frustrated investigators.
Lopez grew up in an non-traditional family. He was fostered as an infant by Elaine Lopez and Pamela Leonard who later adopted him. After the women separated Joseph Lopez lived with Lopez and her partner Terry Hillstrom. On weekends he would stay with Leonard and her partner Ladana Medina.
All four women were very involved in his life.
In prior interviews they have described their son as a typical teenager who enjoyed spending time with family and that he was well-liked. He played the violin in the high school orchestra and exuded a positive attitude.
There was speculation that Joseph knew, and perhaps associated with, young men who had gang ties. The 6-foot-1 inch tall student had attended a behavioral program for students with disciplinary problems and only months before his death transferred to Spring Valley High School from Durango High School.
When his body was found Lopez was wearing sport gloves leading some to believe that he may have been on his way to fight someone.
The timeline provided by the family and investigators indicate that Lopez was murdered between 5:09 p.m. and 6 p.m.
During the course of the investigation police zeroed in on two potential suspects observed near the area. They were later cleared of any involvement.
Overall students and their families that might have key information about Lopez’ murder have been described as largely uncooperative.
Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Homicide Section at (702) 828-3521. Tipsters that wish to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555 or online at www.crimestoppersofnv.com.