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Police: Teen found shot dead in abandoned house died during "Russian roulette"

Updated: Jan 9, 2019

LAS VEGAS — A teenager found dead in an abandoned house in a Las Vegas suburb last week was killed while playing "Russian roulette," investigators have concluded. Las Vegas resident Matthew Minkler, 17, was with two other teenagers when the gun went off Friday, according to a probable cause report obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The two other teenagers, Jaiden Caruso, 16,  and Kody Harlan, 17, allegedly ran from the Henderson house after the shot went off but returned later to clean up the scene and hide the body in a downstairs closet. Detectives later found an expletive spray-painted on the closet door.

According to the paper, however, Minkler's family is disputing the police account of the events leading up to their son's death.

"We know this wasn't Russian roulette," Minkler's mother Jamie Shanklin told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. 

Both teenagers have been charged as adults in Minkler's death. Caruso faces a charge of murder with a deadly weapon, and Harlan faces charges of accessory to murder after the fact and destroying evidence.

Authorities discovered Minkler's body after arresting Harlan for leading police on a car chase in a stolen Mercedes. The teen allegedly told police he had been involved with a murder earlier in the day.

Minkler's wallet was found inside the stolen car, police said.

He was found dead in the house with a gunshot wound to the head.

When police searched Caruso's cellphone, they found several videos from the scene of the shooting, the report said. In one, Caruso reportedly speaks into the camera, saying, "Bro, I just caught a body."

In another video, a voice can reportedly be heard in the background asking what to do with Matthew's body. Caruso then reportedly "calmly walks to the kitchen sink, wets his hands and begins to clean his shoes."  

Caruso told police he was involved in the shooting and that it was accidental, police said.

Matthew had reportedly just completed his junior year at Silverado High School and was set to graduate next year. Shanklin, his mother, told the paper that he told his family as he was leaving the house on the day he was killed to tell her that he loved her.

"My baby never came home," she said.


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