Deborah ‘Debbie’ Flores-Narvaez was killed in December 2010. The death of the Las Vegas showgirl, who performed in the show Fantasy at the Luxor, is the subject of Lifetime‘s newest movie, Death of a Vegas Showgirl. Although it’s been six years since her death and two since ex-boyfriend Jason “Blu” Omar Griffith was sentenced to 10 years to life in prison for her murder, the case still attracts attention as it shed light on the world of Vegas dancers.
Here’s a look at the case and the new movie.
1. Flores-Narvaez Arrived in Las Vegas in 2008 & Was a Washington Redskins Cheerleader
Flores-Narvaez was 31 at the time of her death. She was a former NFL cheerleader, working for the Washington Redskins and was from Puerto Rico. According to a Las Vegas Sun report on her death, she came to Las Vegas in 2008 with a boyfriend, believing that she could become a Vegas dancer, despite her lack of training.
Although her dreams were accomplished, the relationship with the boyfriend crumbled as he obtained a temporary protective order against her. He accused her of stalking and she once broke the order, the Sun reported.
Despite that trouble, she eventually found herself with a part in Fantasy.
2. Griffith & Flores-Narvaez Had a Violent Relationship Before the Murder
Eventually, she met Griffith, a Brooklyn, New York native who danced in the Cirque fu Soleil Love show. The relationship lasted several months before her murder. ABC News notes that he was even accused of punching and kicking her on October 22, 2010, nearly two months before her disappearance. That charge was later dropped.
As People magazine reported at the time, during the October 22 incident, Flores-Narvaez was pregnant with Griffith’s child, according to a police report. The argument started when he threw her iPhone across a street.
The Las Vegas Review Journal reports that the jury in the murder trial heard 14 different 911 calls from Griffith after arguments with Flores-Narvaez. She was never arrested.
3. She Was Found Dismembered & Covered by Cement
Flores-Narvaez was last seen alive on December 12, 2010, when she was supposed to go to Griffith’s apartment to watch an episode of Showtime’s Dexter. According to the Las Vegas Sun, she was scheduled to make her big break with a dance she designed herself in the next day’s performance of Fantasy. When she didn’t show up, her friends reported her missing.
Detectives first met Griffith on December 15, 2010 to talk about Flores-Narvaez. He only admitted that she went to his place three days earlier. Also on December 15, authorities found her car abandoned in a backyard.
On January 5, 2011, Kalae Casorso, a former friend of Flores-Narvaez, told police that Griffith and his roommate, Louis Colombo, wanted to keep Flores-Narvaez’s remains at her apartment. When police talked to Colombo, he told them the whole story. He claimed that he saw Flores-Narvaez lying dead in the apartment and Griffith asked him to help dispose of the body.
They put her body in a storage tub, then poured concrete over it. When it started leaking, they broke the concrete, dismembered her body and placed the remains in multiple tubs and left them at another friend’s house that they expected to be empty.
Twenty-five days after she went missing, Colombo took police to the house and they found Flores-Narvaez’s remains.
On January 11, 2010, the Clark County Coroner’s office ruled that Flores-Narvaez died of asphyxiation due to neck compression, the Las Vegas Sun reports.
4. Griffith Claimed Self-Defense During the Trial
The trial in the case was delayed until 2014. Griffith testified and, in his version of the story, said he was defending himself. The Associated Press reports that he claimed he grabbed her from behind and had his arms around her neck. He believed that she was reached for her purse, which he thought had a gun in it. However, no weapon was found at the scene.
The jury did not buy that and, 14 hours after deliberations started, they convicted him on first-degree murder.
Griffith remains in prison. In July 2014, he was sentenced to 10 years to life in prison.
“The responsibility for this toxic and ultimately tragic relationship continuing as long as it did is entirely yours,” District Judge Kathleen Delaney told Griffith during the sentencing hearing, reports the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Griffith gave a speech at the hearing, insisting that if he were a woman, he wouldn’t have been convicted.
We all know that if I were a woman and I was accosted by a man like this, I wouldn’t be standing before you here today. In tomorrow’s paper, the novelists who claim to be journalists won’t report the things that you really know. I asked 12 jurors to help me and give me back my freedom but they didn’t know the things that you know. I asked the police 14 times to help me and they didn’t know the things that you know. So today judge, I’m asking for a 15th time, will you help me?
5. Roselyn Sanchez Claims Flores-Narvaez Spoke to Her Through Medium Tyler Henry
Roselyn Sanchez (Devious Maids) stars as Flores-Narvaez in Death of a Vegas Showgirl. In an interview with the Las Vegas Review Journal, she claims that she spoke with the victim when she taped an episode of E!’s Hollywood Medium with Tyler Henry. She said that Henry couldn’t have known that she was about to play Flores-Narvaez because she hadn’t announced the project publicly yet.
“She took over the reading and it was unbelievable how adamant she was about letting me know that she was dancing in heaven, basically, that this was happening, that I was going to be able to tell her story,” Sachez said. “Among the many things that she said, the most important thing was, ‘I want everybody to know I didn’t deserve it.’ And it broke my heart to hear it. I mean, it broke my heart.”
The Without a Trace actress said she remembered hearing about the case in 2011. She optioned the rights to Diana Montane and Carolina Sarassa’s book Dancing on Her Grave: The Murder of a Las Vegas Showgirl, which the film is based on. Several names in the film had to be changed, including the name of the show Flores-Narvaez was in.
The movie was also made while Griffith was appealing and the filmmakers tired not to be one-sided.
“We had to be very impartial,” she told the Review-Journal. “We present four ways, because there’s four different stories of what happened the night that he killed her. So we show every single one of those moments, and it’s up to the audience to decide what they think really happened.”
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