Las Vegas police came up with an innovative way to catch a killer by placing a mannequin a few feet from where they discovered a victim’s body in the hopes that the suspect would try to attack it.
Detectives say that the murders of homeless men Daniel Aldape, 46, and David Dunn, 60, were both caused by blunt-force trauma to the head from a hammer carried out as a result of “thrill kills,” or random murders carried out for the sole purpose of getting a rush out of taking someone’s life, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
When police failed to find leads on a suspect, they decided to take a more unconventional approach.
They set up a mannequin designed to look like a homeless person wrapped in blankets sleeping on the sidewalk just a few feet away from where Aldape’s body was found to see what happened.
Just hours after the decoy was set up at around 3 a.m., police say the suspect approached the mannequin three times, allegedly took out a hammer, and hit the mannequin “several times” on the head, the Las Vegas Sun reported.
Surveillance video captured footage of the incident and led police to arrest Shane Schindler, 30, on one count of carrying a concealed weapon, local media reported Friday.
A judge set his bail at $50,000 after a court appearance last week. Schindler has not been charged in the deaths of the two homeless men, but police say he had “intent to kill” based on the attack on the mannequin.
“The decoy mannequin was staged in a manner which would have made it impossible for Schindler to have determined the mannequin was not a human being before he struck,” police said in the arrest report.
Schindler admitted to police he kicked the mannequin and bashed it with a hammer, but told investigators during questioning that he “knew it was a mannequin” before he attacked it.
His attorney, Deputy Public Defender Ashley Sisolak, disputed the charges against him and called the bail against him “excessive.”
“My client has proclaimed his innocence, and I look forward to fighting these allegations,” she said.
The incident has put homeless people in the area on high alert, KSNV reported.
“This block itself, there’s a lot of people who sleep on this street, so that could have been me,” Larry Potts said of the spot where police left the decoy. “It’s not too good for a homeless person to be in struggle already. And then for them to be murdered for no apparent reason is just a tragedy.”
Schinder has not yet entered a plea. He is due back in court March 15.