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Man, 23, who disappeared on walk home last month becomes homicide victim

Izaak's death has been ruled a homicide by the Clark County coroner's office. (Photo via Facebook)


SATURDAY 3/3 UPDATE:

Izaak Towery, 23, died of multiple sharp force injuries. His death was ruled a homicide by the Clark County coroner's office.

His death is the third homicide victim found in hills or mountain around the Las Vegas Valley in the past month.

NBC DATELINE STORY BEFORE BODY FOUND:

It was a route in their hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada that Izaak Towery had walked many times before, his friends and family told Dateline.

“I have been friends with him since he was nine years old,” Nichole Garza said. “He would always walk home at all hours of the night. It was normal.”

On Feb. 9, 2018, Izaak took that same, normal route home. He was walking home from his friend Michael VanCleef’s house.

“We were playing Madden like we do every other day -- nothing out of the ordinary,” Michael told Dateline.

Then, around 8:40 p.m., Michael was going to head to another friend’s house. Michael says that since Izaak didn’t know his friend, he was just going to head home.

“We parted ways around nine o’clock. The neighborhood was buzzing. There are always people out in my neighborhood,” Michael said.

Izaak lived with his mom, Angelina Birong, in a home that’s just a 10-minute walk from Michael’s. But he never made it home. Angelina told Dateline she was asleep at the time, and didn’t know that her son hadn’t come home.

The next day, February 10, Michael says he and Isaak were supposed to meet up with another friend in the afternoon. But Isaak didn’t show up, and didn’t answer his phone.

“We thought he just didn’t want to come with us anymore,” Michael said.

Izaak’s mom Angelina told Dateline she wasn’t immediately worried, either, because it was typical for Izaak to come and go as he pleased.

“It’s not uncommon for him to be away for a night -- or even two. But there is always some form of contact -- a text, a funny picture or something,” Angelina told Dateline. “After two days of no contact, I knew something was wrong.”

The police couldn’t take a missing persons report until 72 hours had passed since, at 23, Izaak is an adult.

“I can confirm that he was reported missing to us on the 13th,” Las Vegas Police Department Public Information Officer Larry Hadfield told Dateline. “It was the person’s mother [who reported him missing.]”

Officer Hadfield told Dateline Izaak is not listed as an endangered missing person because he “is an adult, and there are no suspicious circumstances” surrounding the event, except the fact that he isn’t answering his phone.

“[This case] doesn’t warrant a search or anything. We have it noted, [but] he has no obligation to contact anyone,” Officer Hadfield continued. “It would be an endangered [missing persons case if he] had a mental illness or something of that nature, but none of that was listed.”

Still, Nichole doesn’t believe Izaak would walk away on his own accord.

“He wouldn’t even leave his mom alone. He always found his way back and slept at home,” she said. “I don’t know what to think. All I know is: I don’t think he is with us physically anymore. It’s heavy on my heart -- on my mind. I talk about it every day.”

“I was his only support,” Angelina told Dateline. “He had no jobs, and his friends are unable to maintain supporting him. I can think of no scenario where he is still alive and hasn’t contacted anyone.”

Angelina said her son “was a good person who loved his dog,” a Pit bull named Spike. Family members across the country are also missing Izaak; his uncle, Joseph Towery, is doing what he can from up north in Michigan.

“My nephew has the biggest heart there is out here. He is loved by everyone who ever met him,” Joseph told Dateline in a message. “We've tried to get Las Vegas police to do more, but they're not helping us. We love Izaak Towery with all of our hearts, and this isn't like him to just disappear without a word.”

Nichole, who recently named Izaak godfather to her three-month-old daughter, agrees.

“He is very loved. He was just fun, he was very outgoing. You can’t be mad when he’s around you,” she said. “He was too good of a person to be taken away from us the way he did. He’s a people person -- a people pleaser.”

The death marked the 42nd homicide in Clark County this year.

The Police Department is asking anyone with information to call its homicide section at 702-828-3521 or Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555.

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