LAS VEGAS — It has been two years and eight months since the unsolved 2016 murders of Sydney Land and Nehemiah “Neo” Kauffman, whose bodies were discovered in their Las Vegas apartment on October 27, 2016, both shot in the head.
Las Vegas Township Judge Melanie Andress-Tobiasson claimed Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Homicide Detective Jarrod Grimmett told her who was responsible for the murders. She said Grimmett said the evidence pointed to three suspects; Frankie Zappia (feature photo above) who is the stepdaughter of a now retired Las Vegas Metro police officer and two convicted felons, Shane Valentine and Dominique ‘Domo” Thompson.
Tobiasson made the claim during a lengthy recorded interview last year with the Baltimore Post-Examiner. The Post-Examiner held off publishing parts of that interview until further details could be investigated.
Zappia could not be reached for comment – although she is believed to have commented on the stories that have been published by the Post-Examiner. On her social media pages, she claimed she was best friends with Sydney Land and pictures appear to support that.
Zappia was convicted of soliciting and engaging in prostitution in June of 2016. Valentine and Thompson are currently in prison on charges unrelated to the murders.
To date, no one has been charged in the homicides.
Tobiasson said during our 2018 interview that Land and Kauffman were murdered as a direct result of Tobiasson and her daughter being outed by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Vice detectives as a source of confidential information, just hours before the murders were committed.
Tobiasson said that the wrong two people were murdered, because she believed it was her and her daughter that were meant to be murdered when the Vice detectives outed them to another Las Vegas Metro police officer and his daughter, who Tobiasson alleged was involved in prostitution with Neo Kauffman, one of the murder victims.
The Las Vegas Metro Police have never challenged and or disputed what Tobiasson told the Baltimore Post-Examiner including her startling revelations about the unsolved murders and as you will read later in this story, the police just recently have corroborated that Tobiasson was told details of the investigation by Grimmett after the murders.
Tobiasson tells Vice detectives about unlicensed pimp-operated clubs and Shane Valentine before murders
Tobiasson: I then called Vice and I told them.
BPE: Who’d you talk to in Vice, who are the detectives you are talking to?
Tobiasson: The majority of the time, I spoke to Detective Bluth and Beas. That would be Kelly Bluth and Al Beas. Little did I know at this time that they were both subjects of the federal investigation, I had no idea because it hadn’t been made public yet. I had also talked to Cathy Hui, I talked to Greg Flores, I had talked to several others, you know, in passing. Beas and Bluth were the ones I told most of the information to, but I had given information to Flores, I had given information to Hui, I had also talked to a detective by the name of Van Cleef. But, so this time I called Bluth and Beas again and I tell them that he [Shane Valentine] was in court and as soon as he left my court he started contacting my daughter. I go, I don’t understand why you guys won’t do anything.
Kelly Bluth, he is a man. His wife is a prosecutor. She is a DA. Her name is Jacqueline Bluth. Then there’s Cathy Hui. Gregory Flores. Greg Flores is one of the most corrupt individuals I have ever had the displeasure of learning about. Then there was a Van Cleef and I’m sorry I don’t know his first name.
(Authors note: On Feb. 27, 2019, the Post-Examiner called LVMPD Vice Det. Gregory Flores. I asked him if he would comment on Tobiasson’s remark about him. Flores replied, “Would love to give you a comment but I can’t because of department policy. Go through the PIO office and if they give me permission I would gladly give you a comment.”]
Tobiasson: I spent a year trying to get them to do some sort of independent investigation and shut these places down.
And I said I have information on a girl who is at this moment is working as a prostitute for him [Valentine] while he’s out on bail on a burglary. Maybe you could do some investigation and do something about it. So he tells me he will be at my office on Thursday afternoon. Thursday comes and goes no call, no show.
BPE: And what detective was that?
Tobiasson: That was Detective Kelly Bluth. So, that following Sunday, coincidentally I was at the jail doing something else and I run into Al Beas, working overtime at the jail and I was not nice, and I walked up to him and I said, “One question, how come you guys keep fucking blowing me off.” I go, “I’ve been bringing you information on these guys trying to pimp out underage girls which is your big talking point on the news, and I said for over a year now, and I go you guys have completely blown me off for a year now. You’ve done nothing. You haven’t investigated anything I told you, you haven’t made any effort to independently investigate or verify any of the information I’ve given you, and now you got a dead person at a place that I told you about a year ago that was an unlicensed club.” I go, “I don’t understand,” and he goes, “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I go, “I talked to Bluth, he was supposed to come to my office and once again, no call, no show.” And he said he’s out of town and I go, “well he has a phone doesn’t he?” And so he said, “so we’ll come to your office next week.”
The following week which would have been the first week of October 2016, they come to my office. And it’s Al Beas, Kelly Bluth, and Greg Flores. And I give them information on a girl. The same girl I told you about earlier whose dad was a police officer, who’s friends with my daughter. I give them her name, her dad’s name, all of her information, and again, I give them Shane’s information, where he lived, what his story is.
Now, I have said to them when I gave them this information, every time I gave them information, I said, my daughter could never know I’m giving you information.
BPE: Why would a pimp be pimping out daughters of cops and a judge, it seems like the stupidest thing to do in the world, why was he doing that?
Tobiasson: No, actually if you know you’re protected, and it’s actually not the stupidest thing in the world, it’s the smartest thing in the world because I’m the only one who has ever been willing to come forward. Because everybody else (a), in denial about the fact that it was happening or (b), cares more about their job, their political career or their public reputation, than their kids…..See, my embarrassment comes from the fact that we have a police department and a DA’s Office who will allow this to happen. They know it’s happening, they pretend they don’t, and they allow our kids, they allow their own colleagues kids, to get trafficked. And then they go on the news and talk about, you know, their passion for going after these human traffickers when they’re sitting back watching it.
I actually subsequently learned that there were cops who hung out at Top Notch, at the club.
BPE: With the underage girls?
Tobiasson: Uh, huh.
BPE: What was the judge’s name whose daughter was also being pimped out, what was her name?
Tobiasson: Michelle Leavitt. Her daughter recently was working as a prostitute again out of Spearmint Rhino which is also Mally Mall’s territory.
Tobiasson speaks to retired Vice Lt. Karen Hughes
Tobiasson: Mid-October of 2016, retired lieutenant Karen Hughes, sends me a message on Facebook, unrelated to this investigation. I had made a ruling in a case and she had called in about my decision in that case. As a result of that, I reached out back to her and I said I’ve got a question for you. Now, of course, I don’t realize that she is a subject of the investigation either.
BPE: Just so I know, just to get this on the record right now. The subject, when you say the investigation we’re talking about…
Tobiasson: The FBI investigation.
BPE: Right. The FBI corruption investigation reference to the search warrant they executed in 2014 on Mally Mall’s house?
Tobiasson: I didn’t know at that time that she was a subject of the investigation or at least part of the investigation. So, I reach out to her and said hey I have a question for you, “What’s going on in Vice?” I said because I have been taking information to them for over a year now, almost a year and a half, and I said they have blown me off, over and over and over and over, again. I said I don’t understand. I said maybe they just don’t give a shit because it’s me. I said but it’s really frustrating and I don’t understand. And she says, I’ll call over there. She then tells me that she had called over there and it was going to be taken care of, okay.
After speaking with Hughes, Tobiasson is later outed by Vice detectives
Tobiasson: So, October 25, 2016, at 4:30 in the afternoon I get a phone call from Detective Van Cleef, and he’s frantic, and he says we have a problem. I said what’s the problem. He said I was asked to sit in on an interview today. He goes, I sit down, and the girl comes into the interview and the detective who’s questioning her is a detective by the name of Justine Gadus. Of all of them, she should not, she should be in prison for what she did to me, and my daughter.
BPE: Who? Justine Gadus?
BPE: What did she do?
Tobiasson: Well, let me tell you. She calls (police officer) and says she would like to interview his daughter, that they have received information that she (redacted) potentially has information with regard to a pimp and human trafficking of juveniles. So they call her in for an interview.
First question out of Justine Gadus’ mouth, “Do you know Sarah Tobiasson.” “Yes I do, she’s one of my best friends.” The second statement out of Justine Gadus’ mouth. “We got your name from her mom; she says you (know) Shane Valentine.”
Tobiasson: Yeah. Yep. I get the call from Van Cleef, who is beside himself, he goes I don’t know what to do. I said, “how about you get the fuck back in there and fix this.” I go, she just put a fucking target on my daughter. You don’t think this guy is going to kill me? He’s not going to kill me; he’s going to kill my kid.” I go, “what is wrong with you people?” I said there is no way that this was an accident. I go no Vice detective, I don’t care if they’ve been there for one day, would do that by accident. I go, this was intentional. So, he goes back into the interview. He calls me when the interview is over and he’s like, “well we talked to her and we told her not to talk to your daughter about it.” I said, “Are you an idiot?” I go, “she’s on the phone with my daughter right now, I go in fact I bet in thirty-seconds I have a call from my daughter.” Sure as shit I get a text message from my daughter. “Are you serious, you called the police on us?”
Hours after Tobiasson and her daughter were outed by Vice the murders occurred
Tobiasson: So, that night at about 12:30, so it would have been 12:30 October 26, 12:30 a.m., Shane Valentine, a guy by the name of Dominique Thompson, he went by Domo, D-O-M-O, and a girl by the name of Frankie F-R-A-N-K-I-E, Zappia Z-A-P-P-I-A, go to…
Shane, Domo, and Frankie, whose stepdad is a police officer by the name of Dano, D-A-N-O, Giersdorf, G-I-E-R-S-D-O-R-F, go to Neo’s house and execute Neo and his girlfriend, Sydney Land, whose dad is a fire captain.
BPE: OK. Wait a minute, wait a minute, I’m losing you. Who’s Dano Giersdorf?
Tobiasson: Dano, D-A-N-O, is the stepfather of Frankie Zappia, one of the suspects in the double homicide that happened eight hours after I was outed as a source of information to one of Shane Valentine’s prostitutes who had left him and was now working for Neo. Eight hours later, her new pimp is killed by her old pimp because she puts out on Twitter that she had been called in and interviewed by Vice.
They know and everyone else knows that this murder happened as a result of what they did that day.
Tobiasson: They find the bodies Thursday morning, two days after they’ve been killed. They know immediately that Shane is one of the suspects, okay.
Friday night at midnight I come home from a concert and my daughter comes to me and she says, “mom I got to talk to you, she said you know that double homicide where my friend Neo got shot, I said yeah, she says, “Shane did it.” And I don’t even ask her how she knows. For some reason, all the kids on the street know everything and the cops don’t know shit.
So I text Det. Van Cleef at midnight on Friday, so it would have been the 28th of October…
Tobiasson: So I texted Detective Van Cleef. I said you got any intel on the suspect in the double homicide, knowing that they knew, and he goes “yeah I heard about that yesterday morning.” So I called him, and I said, “you knew yesterday morning that Shane Valentine was a suspect in this double homicide that happened eight hours after you outed me as a source of information putting my daughter’s life in danger and you didn’t think that maybe I should get a heads up. That maybe someone should have called me and told me, that he was a suspect in this double homicide.”
And I told him Tuesday when I said to him, I go Shane Valentine is a murder waiting to happen, it better not fucking be my daughter. So within eight hours, I was proven right because Shane Valentine was involved in the double homicide of these two kids. [Sydney Land and Nehemiah Kauffman].
Homicide Detective Jarrod Grimmett gives Tobiasson details of the investigation
Tobiasson: The first detective who is investigating the case, thank God is someone who knows me and respects me, and I have a good relationship with. He tells for the first three or four weeks after the murders while Shane is on the run, what information they have and what proof they have that Shane’s involved and they have his phone ping at the apartment and then what happens is that after the murders the phone is turned off almost immediately and then the next time his phone is turned on, it’s in Baker, California.
Now after the double homicide, they get Neo’s phone and there’s like forty thousand text messages on it. Apparently, Neo never deleted his text. There’s text messages between Neo and Shane, there’s text messages between Allie and Neo confirming that she is having an involvement with Neo, prostitution-related involvement with Neo and there are many, many, many other text messages on his phone. I’m advised of this by the detective working on this case that they have this information.
I’m told they have Domo’s DNA, that Frankie’s phone pings at the apartment, that they caught Frankie in all kinds of lies and one of the most significant things is that after the two are dead, nobody ever texted them again. Like Shane, and Frankie and Domo never send them another text.
Nobody has been arrested in the murders, I told you that. He was a suspect in the murders, they have all the evidence they need to make arrests in the murders.
I told you about the detective that was originally on the case he told me all the evidence they had that showed it was Shane, Domo, and Frankie.
“The fact I got outed got two people killed”
Tobiasson: Listen, they’re still protecting them. Listen [Vice Detective Chris] Baughman’s gone from the department. Karen Hughes is gone from the department. Al Beas should be, but there’s still, Metro was able to call, I don’t care why, it doesn’t matter why. Metro finds out that a judge is giving information to the FBI and was able to call the FBI and tell their agent not to get information from the judge anymore about the prostitution activities that she reported to Vice, that were ignored and resulted in three murders, it doesn’t matter why.
The fact it happened, is the story. Who cares what their motivation is, it’s disgusting, why would they not want me to give information to the FBI about this?
Because it makes them look really fucking bad. And they know that the fact that they outed me, got two people killed. It wasn’t the two people they were trying to get killed, me and my daughter, but it got two people killed. I tell you; [Clark County Sheriff] Joe [Lombardo] does not want this story out there.
Analysis: Police compromised homicide investigation
Immediately after the murders were discovered, detectives [not from Homicide] at the crime scene leaked to a reporter that Neo Kauffman was found with a bag of marijuana clenched in his hand, a key fact in this case that should never have been divulged to the press.
Later, they released to the press that there were two suspects involved in the murders because witnesses had seen two people running in the vicinity of the apartments. That information turned out to have no validity as the two people running, in fact, had nothing to do with the murders. That information was hastily given to the media before that information could be vetted by the police, according to a police source.
On April 27, 2018, Crime Watch Daily featured the unsolved murders of Sydney Land and Nehemiah Kauffman.
Det. Grimmett comments from the show: “There were several items that contained DNA evidence. The problem is these people had a lot of friends, a lot of associates that hung out at the apartment complex, so sorting through all the details of what was relevant or what’s not, has been a challenge. Everything looked like Shane [Valentine] may have been our guy. When I refer to DNA, I mean there’s cigarette butts everywhere, ashtrays full of stuff, drink cups everywhere and so you talk about DNA being in the apartment, there’s all kinds of stuff you know. Who knows what was supposed to be there and what wasn’t supposed to be there? I think if we could have found a motive, we could have found a direction in the case.”
Approval for the show came directly from Sheriff Joe Lombardo and according to a police source, the police gave final approval before the show aired.
The police released crime scene photographs that were also aired on the show.
Based on my experience that was against any proper police protocol during an open, unsolved homicide investigation because you want to keep details and depictions of the crime scene and whatever evidence you collected, i.e. DNA, confidential. You do not compromise the integrity of the investigation, yet in this instance, that is what was done.
Grimmett refused to discuss Dominique “Domo” Thompson when asked by the interviewer on the show if he was suspect, but he had no problem in 2016 telling Tobiasson that Thompson was a suspect during the weeks following the murder as Tobiasson told the Baltimore Post-Examiner.
Grimmett said they have no motive or direction in the case, which I find hard to believe, yet they still released photographs and details of the investigation that should of have been kept confidential.
As a side note, after the October 1, 2017 Las Vegas Massacre, in what was the largest homicide investigation in the history of the department, Las Vegas Metro Police leaked crime scene photographs of Stephen Paddock’s body, his hotel suite and firearms, two days after the shooting when the investigation had just started. The police moved Paddock’s body before the crime scene analyst arrived thus compromising the crime scene. Homicide detectives were not involved in the investigation of Paddock’s death. The coroner’s investigator was not allowed to take possession of Paddock’s body when he arrived at the suite the next morning. He was told to come back because the FBI hadn’t arrived yet. Nineteen hours after Paddock was found dead in the room, another coroner’s investigator came out and removed the body. And let us not forget the sergeant in the Force Investigation Team who swore under oath to a judge for a search warrant that the police witnessed Paddock commit suicide, only months later when the affidavits were released by court order, did he admit that was a mistake.
Las Vegas Metro Police confirm Grimmett spoke with Tobiasson about murders
On June 27 the Baltimore Post-Examiner published ‘Internal Affairs to Land: Las Vegas homicide detective didn’t violate policy when he leaked confidential information to judge’.
In that story, the Post-Examiner reported that Las Vegas Metro Police Internal Affairs Detective W. Williams told Connie Land, the mother of Sydney, that Homicide Detective Jarrod Grimmett did not violate departmental policy when he leaked confidential details of the investigation to Judge Tobiasson.
Land said Williams said he made that determination after conducting his investigation on her complaint against Grimmett.
Note that Williams did not say that Grimmett denied giving Tobiasson the information, he said Grimmett did not violate police policy.
So the police have now confirmed what Tobiasson told the Baltimore Post-Examiner – more specifically Grimmett told Tobiasson the names of the suspects in the case, which not even the media knew.
Retired NYPD Detective Frank Serpico weighs in on the case
Retired NYPD Detective Frank Serpico commented to the Baltimore Post-Examiner:
“Contrary to what the public is mistakenly led to believe (by the Internal Affairs Bureaus, that they go after bad cops) from my experience, they cover up fraud and criminality within their own department in order to protect the image of their individual departments. Only on rare occasion, in order to save face with the public, they will fry a few little fish, while the barracudas, the big kahunas who are responsible come out smelling like a rose in the manure they dwell in.”
Baltimore Post-Examiner requested comment from the LVMPD PIO
On Saturday the Baltimore Post-Examiner sent the following request to the Public Information Office:
“The Baltimore Post-Examiner has sent numerous media requests to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Public Information Office for comment on stories relating to the Land/Kauffman unsolved 2016 double murders. The BPE has never received a reply on any of our requests.
The Baltimore Post-Examiner was told by the LVMPD PIO that the LVMPD PIO does not recognize online news publications and denied our request for press credentials and to this date, the BPE is not included on the notification list for LVMPD upcoming press briefings.
I direct your attention to the attached Nevada Current June 2018 story about the murders.
As you can see from the attached screenshot, the author Dana Gentry, states, “A Metro spokesman identified Frankie Zappia and Thompson as suspects in the double murders.”
Why is it that the LVMPD spokesman commented to the Nevada Current, which is an online news publication, but fails continually to comment to the Baltimore Post-Examiner which is also an online news publication?
Also, is that the official statement on the Land/Kauffman murders as the Nevada Current stated that the LVMPD spokesman was quoted, that Frankie Zappia and Dominique “Domo” Thompson are suspects in the murders.
Since that article was published in 2018, is that still the official word from the LVMPD, that Zappia and Thompson are suspects in the murders?”
We may have to wait until hell freezes over for the police to reply to us.
We also have requested a sit-down interview with Sheriff Joe Lombardo, the head of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department but have heard nothing but silence.
We also reached out to the FBI and the US Attorney’s Office in Las Vegas and have heard nothing. Is there a federal investigation or not? After five years, that could very well be, that nothing at all is going on, and if that’s the case then that will be a story in itself.
But we do have one question for LVMPD: Does anyone work in the public information office?
We know the stories on the Post-Examiner are being read by law enforcement because current cops keep telling us they become the subject of conversations throughout the department even during roll call.
Maybe the powers to be are just too afraid to talk to us, perhaps just as they are too afraid to solve the double murder.
Sydney Land’s and Neo Kauffman’s family deserve better.
Stay tuned we have plenty more to come.
Doug authored over 135 articles on the October 1, 2017 Las Vegas Massacre, more than any other single journalist in the country. He investigates stories on corruption, law enforcement and crime. Doug is a US Army Military Police Veteran, former police officer, deputy sheriff and criminal investigator. Doug spent 20 years in the hotel/casino industry as an investigator and then as Director of Security and Surveillance. He also spent a short time with the US Dept. of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration. In 1986 Doug was awarded Criminal Investigator of the Year by the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia for his undercover work in narcotics enforcement. In 1992 and 1993 Doug testified in court that a sheriff’s office official and the county prosecutor withheld exculpatory evidence during the 1988 trial of a man accused of the attempted murder of his wife. Doug’s testimony led to a judge’s decision to order the release of the man from prison in 1992 and awarded him a new trial, in which he was later acquitted. As a result of Doug breaking the police “blue wall of silence,” he was fired by the county sheriff. His story was featured on Inside Edition, Current Affair and CBS News’ “Street Stories with Ed Bradley”. In 1992 after losing his job, at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Doug infiltrated a group of men who were plotting the kidnapping of a Dupont fortune heir and his wife. Doug has been a guest on national television and radio programs speaking on the stories he now writes as an investigative journalist.