POSTED: 5:37 a.m. HST, Dec 28, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 8:52 a.m. HST, Dec 28, 2012
LAS VEGAS >> Blood was found inside a car borrowed by a Las Vegas Strip card dealer last seen with a missing 10-year-old girl and later arrested in the razor blade slashing of a co-worker at the posh Bellagio resort, a prosecutor said today.
Brenda Stokes Wilson was identified in court today as the prime suspect in the slaying, although prosecutor Robert Daskas told a judge that authorities haven't positively identified the girl found dead Thursday in an undeveloped housing tract in North Las Vegas.
"It's no secret the defendant is the suspect in the murder of 10-year-old Jade Morris," Daskas said as he convinced Senior Clark County District Court Judge Joseph Bonaventure to increase Wilson's bail from $60,000 to $600,000 pending the filing of kidnapping and murder charges.
Daskas said a weapon was used in the slaying, but he did not elaborate.
Clark County Coroner Michael Murphy said it could be this afternoon before DNA testing is complete and he can positively say the body is Jade Morris. The girl was last seen by her family Dec. 21, when Wilson picked her up to go Christmas shopping. She never returned.
Wilson, 50, was arrested later that night after she was wrestled to the ground with razors in each hand following a face-slashing attack on a female co-worker, Joyce Rhone, at the Bellagio.
Wilson has been jailed on felony battery with a weapon, burglary and mayhem charges that could get her decades in prison. Police said she has offered no help in the search for the missing girl. Murder and kidnapping charges could get her life in prison without parole or the death penalty.
Wilson stood in court flanked by eight police officers as her lawyer, Tony Liker, clutching a Bible and a copy of the charging documents, asked the judge to postpone arraignment until Wednesday to give him time to meet with Wilson.
Liker declined comment outside court.
Police went public with the search for Jade Morris on Christmas Day, and the case received increasing attention after the relationship between the girl and Wilson became known. Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson watched the proceedings in court Friday and called the case important for the community.
Wilson, who had been identified by police and prosecutors as Brenda Stokes, told the judge Friday that her full name was Brenda Stokes Wilson.
She used to date the missing girl's father, Philip Morris, and had a long and trusted relationship with Jade Morris, according to the missing girl's grandfather, Philip Tucker.
Philip Morris was removed from court Wednesday by armed court officers after shouting questions about his daughter's whereabouts to Wilson. He did not attend Friday's hearing.
Tucker said Philip Morris lived in Billings, Mont., and worked at a Flying J truck stop for more than a year. He would stay with Wilson when he visited Las Vegas, Tucker said.
Tucker said Rhone was Wilson's best friend and also knew Philip Morris.
Tucker said Wilson appeared to believe since her birthday Nov. 8 that Rhone and Philip Morris had become romantically involved. Tucker said he didn't know if Wilson's jealousy was well-founded.
"But whatever was going on with them didn't concern Jade," Tucker said. "How do you take a kid who loves you so much and hurt her?"
Jade Morris' family last saw the girl when Wilson picked her at about 5 p.m. Dec. 21. About two hours later, Wilson returned to another friend the red 2007 Saab sedan that she borrowed for the shopping trip.
Daskas said police have the vehicle and are testing blood found on the driver's door and steering wheel to see if it matches Jade Morris. Stokes later got a ride with a friend to the Bellagio, police said.
Wilson allegedly had a razor in each hand when she attacked Rhone as Rhone dealt blackjack about 9:30 p.m.
Rhone, 44, was hospitalized with deep cuts on her face, including one from her ear to the edge of her mouth. A police arrest report said Rhone also had several smaller cuts around her right eye.
Tucker said Rhone called him Saturday, speaking with difficulty and expressing surprise at the attack.
"She said, 'I can't believe she would do something like this to me,'" Tucker recalled. "I said, 'Was Jade with her?' She said she didn't know Jade was involved."
A police report said Wilson told investigators following her arrest that she visited her doctor last week, seeking to be admitted to a hospital "due to feeling like she wanted to hurt someone."