Details of Disappearance
Suazo separated from her husband in North Las Vegas, Nevada in 2000. She was employed as a clerk at See's Candies in Meadows Mall and resided with her adult daughter, Bethany Rodriguez.
Suazo began dating Michael Messick shortly after her separation. A photo of Messick is posted with this case summary. He delivered pizzas for a local establishment and was 27 years old at the beginning of their relationship. Suazo told her sister that she was in love with Messick shortly after meeting him.
Rodriguez told authorities that Messick only paid attention to her mother after she received her weekly paycheck. She said that he disappeared from Suazo's life until the next check arrived and consistently apologized for his behavior while repeating the cycle. Rodriguez asked her mother to keep Messick away from their apartment after witnessing the way he treated Suazo.
Rodriguez discovered that her mother allowed Messick inside their residence during the early morning hours of April 3, 2001. She and Suazo had a brief argument about his presence and her mother departed with him in her minivan at approximately 6:00 a.m.
Rodriguez stated that Messick was unkempt and appeared to have been awake for an extended period of time. He reportedly was a heavy amphetamine user at the time. Suazo never reported to work later that morning and she has not been heard from again.
Messick stopped at Bradley Jontz's apartment on East Charleston Boulevard in Las Vegas at approximately 9:30 p.m. on April 3. Jontz said that he and Messick met in October 2000 and had sexual relations twice per week. Jontz told authorities that Messick said he was providing sexual favors for a woman named "Annie" in exchange for drug money.
Messick immediately began washing his hands after he entered Jontz's residence. He borrowed ten dollars to purchase gasoline for his white Geo Metro and left Jontz's apartment after ten minutes. Suazo's family members reported her disappearance on April 6. She normally contacted her loved ones after leaving without advance notice and the lack of communication was uncharacteristic on her part.
Suazo's minivan was discovered abandoned on April 9, six days after she disappeared. The vehicle was parked along Charleston Boulevard near Antelope Way. Authorities tested small brown stains on the minivan's interior, which were analyzed due to suspicions of foul play in Suazo's case.
Investigators stated that it appeared someone cleaned the vehicle and shampooed the rugs prior to discovery. Suazo's son was a passenger inside his mother's minivan shortly before April 3. He said that several items were missing, including a steering wheel cover, a towel and several floor mats.
Messick resided with his mother, Hisayo Sami Miller, in a condominium near Hualapi Way and Sahara Avenue in Las Vegas. Authorities visited his home on April 10 but did not enter the premises.
Forensic tests on the stains found inside Suazo's vehicle were incomplete and investigators wanted to wait to question Messick until they received the results to avoid jeopardizing the case. Authorities believed that they saw Miller standing on the condo's balcony and reported that Messick's vehicle was parked in the driveway at the time.
The test results arrived on April 11 and proved that the stains in Suazo's minivan were not blood. Investigators returned to Messick's residence at 8:30 a.m. to question him regarding her case, but no one answered the door. One of the detectives left his business card tucked inside the door frame and left a note requesting that Messick contact authorities when he returned.
An unidentified male called investigators at approximately 10:30 a.m. and handed the phone to Messick. He claimed that he dropped Suazo off near the Boulder Station and Casino on Boulder Highway on April 3 and never heard from her again.
The detective stated that he believed Messick was being evasive during their conversation and received the impression that he did not want to discuss Suazo. He requested that Messick meet him in person if he did not have anything to hide in regards to her case. Messick refused and said that he would retain an attorney if authorities pressed the issue.
Messick arrived at Jontz's apartment at approximately 1:00 p.m. Jontz said that Messick alternately cried and regained his composure several times during his visit. He said that Messick was normally paranoid and the behavior was not unusual for him.
Jontz stated that Messick often claimed he owed people money and believed unidentified individuals were chasing him. He verified that Jontz's residence was secure several times during his visits by checking the door lock and looking out the windows for suspicious activity.
Jontz told authorities that Messick watched a movie and masturbated inside his apartment after eating a snack. He continuously asked Jontz if he was a "bad person" and said he was in trouble and needed protection. Messick found a paring knife in the kitchen and attempted to leave, but Jontz convinced him to drop the weapon.
Jontz reported that Messick insisted he had a gun hidden inside the apartment and tore through the residence searching for the pistol. Jontz said that he never owned such a weapon and ordered him to leave. Messick tearfully asked Jontz to pray for him before his departure.
Miller's co-workers at a Las Vegas restaurant became concerned when she failed to arrive for her shift later during the day and contacted authorities. A locksmith opened Miller and Messick's condo for investigators at approximately 8:00 p.m. on April 11. Her body was discovered wrapped in plastic inside of their bathtub.
An autopsy revealed that Miller had been beaten and stabbed in the chest sometime before discovery. Messick returned home shortly afterwards and investigators said he appeared to be under the influence of drugs. He was unemotional when informed of his mother's homicide. Miller and Messick's residence had apparently been cleaned beforehand.
A detective noted that the odor of bleach was prevalent and one area of carpet was moist. Diluted blood was discovered underneath the carpet.
Messick was arrested and charged with Miller's murder later in the evening. Authorities seized his Geo Metro and discovered traces of Suazo's blood under the rubber lip of the vehicle's cargo hatch. A grand jury indicted Messick on murder charges in Suazo's case in April 2002.
Both cases were tried at the same time. Messick was convicted of first-degree murder in Miller's death and second-degree murder in Suazo's in May 2003, and was sentenced to two terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Messick appealed his convictions, but the appeal was denied in February 2005.
Investigators believed that Messick killed his mother because he feared she would report his drug usage to authorities. He referred to such people as "rat finks" and told others that he would harm anyone if he needed to protect himself.
The motive for Suazo's presumed homicide is unclear. She has never been located.