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Moments after Patricia Stocker and her roommate heard the unmistakable sound of gunshots, they saw a man covered in blood, crawling towards the gate to their apartment complex on West Reno Avenue, Las Vegas. Patricia rushed over and tried to help the man, while her roommate, Victor Rizzi, called 9-1-1. When Patricia reached the man, he was badly injured and struggled to speak. In shock, he told her his name was Lee and kept mumbling in disbelief:
“I’m shot. I’m shot.”
"He raised up and I put my legs under him. He put his arm across me and held on. He clenched his jaw. I said, 'No, you've got to open your mouth and let air in.' I said, 'It's OK,' and he relaxed. He let out his last breath of air and it was over."
Clenched in his hand was his keychain, with a picture of his two-year-old daughter. It was important, Patricia felt, that Lee’s family knew he was not alone when he passed away…
The victim of this brutal slaying was Lee Redmond, a Las Vegas limo driver. In the months leading up to his murder, Lee tried to warn authorities about his unhinged stalker, but nothing was done to help Lee. And then, his worst fears came true…
Charles ‘Lee’ Redmond was born on the 12th of June 1962 in Riverside, California. He had two sisters and a brother. He always looked out for his siblings and friends, and everyone who knew Lee liked him. In 1997, Lee’s family had been living in Las Vegas for 17 years.
Lee met a nurse called Renee, and they immediately hit it off. The couple married and a year later they welcomed their baby daughter, Lexus into their family. A respected kickboxing champion, Lee was happy to settle down and enjoyed being a father. But he never gave up on his dreams, and was set to turn pro, with a fight scheduled for the spring of 1998.
Through his kickboxing connections, the 6ft4 Lee landed a part-time job as a bodyguard at the MCM Grand Hotel-Casino. Soon, the good-looking, always-smiling and gentle man was offered work as a chauffeur for resort guests.
He drove limousines around Las Vegas and brushed shoulders with many high rollers and celebrities. Stevie Wonder was one of Lee’s regular clients for more than two years. The two of them struck up a friendship, and always looked forward to seeing each other.
But his work also exposed Lee to the other side of Las Vegas – a world of strip-clubs and escorts. As a driver-slash-bodyguard, Lee was often expected to enter strip clubs with his clients, to make sure they were okay. He met all kinds of people through his work, and always enjoyed talking to everyone. And so it came, that one night, he met an exotic dancer while waiting for one of his clients at the Girls of Glitter Gulch nightclub. Lee struck up a conversation with her, and she was instantly taken in by his kind manner.
The dancer was 21-year-old Nicole Thornton. Nicole also hailed from southern California, but unlike Lee, she did not have much of a family life. She came from a broken home and decided to move to Las Vegas for a fresh start. However, she was very lonely and struggled to settle in. She told Lee that she felt unsafe making her way home in the middle of the night after work.
Lee had a strong older-brother instinct and offered drive her home after his shift that night. From that point on, whenever Lee took clients to the Girls of Glitter Gulch nightclub, she jumped at the opportunity to get a ride home. Lee was always jovial and friendly and Nicole thought something was happening between them. She told Lee that she had feelings for him, and he told her he was happily married.
Nicole saw it as a challenge and continued to pursue a romantic relationship with Lee. He realised her intention was to break up his marriage, and politely turned her down again. He made it clear that he was in a loving marriage and was committed to his young family. Lee never considered cheating on Renee and told Nicole so in no uncertain terms. But Nicole was undeterred.
She called Lee at work every day, and most of the time he got himself out of the conversation, or he would ask his co-workers to cover for him. The daily calls escalated and soon Nicole was calling almost on the hour. When Lee started avoiding her phone calls, she showed up at his work in person. It was very awkward for Lee, who was running out of excuses to get rid of her. Nicole was oblivious to the stress she caused him and continued chasing after him.
In her mind, the only obstacle was Lee’s wife, Renee. So she went after her, hoping to come between Lee and his wife. Nicole left a note on Renee’s car, claiming that she was having an affair with Lee. She said that if Lee told Renee he was at work, he was actually with her. Renee knew that her husband of three years loved her and didn’t think he would cheat on her. But then again, so many stories of infidelity start that way…
Nicole’s advances put a strain on their marriage for a while, but it didn’t take long for Renee to understand her husband’s situation, and she realised that Lee was genuinely distressed. He told her everything about Nicole and how she had been stalking him and pestering him everywhere he went. He did not tell Renee from the start, because he didn’t want to upset her, and wanted to protect her from the onslaught. But there was no ignoring the likes of Nicole Thornton. No matter what Lee said or did, she would not back down. When Lee refused to give in to her attempts to seduce him, she gave him a voodoo charm. It was a small pouch with hair, her picture and some other oddities. Was this an attempt to cast a spell over Lee that would make him fall in love with her?
This was the last straw for Lee – things were getting way too weird. On the 9th of June, he filed a report with Metro Police, outlining Nicole’s harassing behaviour. He was concerned about his family’s safety when he left for work and was afraid of what Nicole was capable of. There was not telling how far she was prepared to go. However, police were not very helpful and did not think the situation was quite as dangerous as Lee described it. In fact, he told his friends and family that the duty officers laughed at him. Lee felt embarrassed, and angry all at the same time. Nicole would not leave him alone police did not take him seriously – what was he supposed to do?
Despite a restraining order against her, Nicole continued her stalking behaviour. It put so much pressure on Lee and his young family, they decided to move. They had an unlisted phone number and address, and for a moment, Lee felt a bit safer.
But Nicole found them and in a fit of rage slashed the tyres of Lee’s personal vehicle and broke the windows. Lee reported the incidents religiously, but police never followed up. The general attitude of police was that Lee, an imposing kickboxer could surely handle a young and pretty dancer like Nicole Thornton. They did not realise how deranged she had become.
Lee felt let down by the system but was prepared to do whatever it took to protect his family. He confronted Nicole for the umpteenth time and begged her to stay away from him and his family. But instead of coming to her senses or apologising, Nicole pulled out a firearm and threatened to shoot him if he didn’t leave Renee for her. Lee forced her hand and challenged her to shoot him. She didn’t shoot and backed away in horror. The dramatic incident seemed to have shaken Nicole into reality, making her realise what she was doing. She had a gun pointed at the man she had become obsessed with – it was rock bottom.
At this point, Lee thought that he finally got through to his stalker and was positive about getting on with his life. He hoped to leave the whole thing behind him and forget that he ever met Nicole Thornton. But Nicole would not LET him forget about her. In the first week of October, she sent him a threatening letter. She also vandalised his car again.
Lee was furious. In the early morning hours of Monday 13 October 1997, after he finished work for the night, he drove the MGM Grand’s limousine to Industrial Road, where it was stored, and picked up his personal car. Desperate to put an end to Nicole Thornton’s harassment, he then drove to her apartment around 12:30am, to plead with her to stop once more.
Police concluded that Nicole pulled her weapon on Lee during the argument. He did not engage in a struggle and chose to leave. As he walked away from her, heading downstairs from her second-floor apartment, she shot him in the back. Blood on the driver’s side door handle of Lee’s car indicated that he had made it to his car. However, Nicole must have followed him and fired a second shot, hitting him in his lower back.
Nicole left him for dead and returned to her apartment. Inside, she scribbled a suicide note, underscoring her obsession with Lee. If she couldn’t have him, no one could. Then she turned her gun on herself.
Meanwhile, Lee must have realised he was in trouble and returned to the building, crawling, hoping someone would help. This is when Patricia Stocker and Victor Rizzi saw him and raised the alarm. Sadly, it was too late, and Lee passed away only minutes before the ambulance arrived at the scene.
Lee was announced dead at 5:20am by the Las Vegas coroner’s office. Renee was up all night, waiting for Lee. She was used to him working late, but something didn’t feel right. When a police officer knocked on her door with news about her husband’s murder, her whole world fell apart. They asked her if she knew of anyone who would have wanted to harm her husband, and she told them about Nicole Thornton.
Police realised that Lee was killed outside of Nicole’s apartment and wanted to talk to her. When they entered her apartment some hours after Lee passed away, they discovered her body inside, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
Shortly after Lee’s murder, Stevie Wonder was staying at the MGM Grand and requested his usual driver, the amicable Lee Redmond. The popstar was distraught to learn about the murder and reached out to Renee and asked if he could sing at Lee’s funeral.
It was an emotional service at the New Bethel Baptist Church. Before Stevie Wonder sang, he said:
"It was only through the love of Lee that I am here today. It is only through Lee's love that I am here as a friend. Our friendship was not based on who I was. It was based on being a friend. I knew instantly that this man would be someone special in my life. As much as I'm hurt that he is not here in the physical, I am so glad that he is looking down on us, protecting us."
He then fared his friend farewell by singing “I Won’t Complain”, and the congregation rose to their feet, clapping, crying, singing along. Stevie Wonder sang the heartfelt gospel song, ending with:
"God bless you, Lee”.
Lee’s father, Ralph Redmond, respected his son for following his dreams and putting them into reality. He said:
"Lee was not perfect -- none of us are -- he loved life."
Lee’s sister, Jamie Pomerleau also thanked Patricia Stocker publicly for being there for her brother during his last moments alive.
Lee’s family struggled to come to terms with his death. Four months before his death he took out a restraining order against his stalker, who eventually became his killer. It was terribly frustrating to know that he feared for his safety, but nothing was done to save him. His sister, Jamie, said:
“He tried to go through the right channels and no one did anything. Then he tried to handle it himself.”
And then he was taken from his wife, his baby daughter, his family and friends. All because of a demented woman who misread his kindness became obsessed with him, and ultimately wanted him all to herself.
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