Las Vegas Sun

April 21, 2014

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Police say more ‘tricks’ fall prey to roll

Mark Jones thought he was getting lucky in Las Vegas. Eye contact with a woman in the MGM Grand quickly turned to a conversation that ended up in his hotel room.

But three hours later he awoke from drug-induced slumber -- likely from something slipped to him in a drink -- to find the woman gone with his wallet, cash, video camera and even the gold chains from his neck.

"I was kind of drunk already and she told me everything I wanted to hear," Jones said. "I thought I was the man. I thought I was Rico Suave. She just had her way. She got me, man. I really feel blessed because she could have done worse things to me."

The woman proved to be an able predator, police said, as about a dozen men -- mostly tourists staying at Strip resorts -- reported similar experiences over about a nine-month period.

The woman, Metro Police vice detectives contend, is 23-year-old Brendalyn Lane, who is charged with about 50 crimes including robbery, burglary, kidnapping and use of a drug to aid a felony. Lane was in Clark County District Court on Thursday for an arraignment, but it was pushed back until next month.

Lane and her roommate, Melissa Davis, 39, were indicted last week on several of the incidents. Lane has been in the Clark County jail since she was arrested in September. Davis is being held in jail, accused of being Lane's accomplice.

The men in the recent cases told police various versions of the same story: The yeach met a young woman in a Strip hotel bar, started up a conversation and ended up in their hotel room with the woman. In the end they all reported falling asleep -- likely through being drugged -- and waking up finding themselves robbed.

It's the very Vegas crime of a "trick roll."

The number of reported trick rolls has increased over the past few years. There were 43 reported cases in 1998 and 45 in 1999, but the number has skyrocketed since, with 80 reported cases last year and 93 so far this year, said Sgt. Brian Evans of the vice unit.

Evans says many more likely happen each year, but the victims don't report it because of embarrassment or perhaps a wife back home. But there is a very real danger when sedatives are slipped into drinks. He said a couple years ago, a trick roll ended with the victim dead.

Lane and Davis are accused in more than 10 percent of the reported trick rolls this year, preying on tourists along the Strip. Tourists are sought out because they are less likely to call police or if they do, to return to Las Vegas for court. But the dangerous part is the drugging.

All of the men tested in the recent cases were found to have Xanax -- a tranquilizer -- or a sleeping aid in their system, said Detective Aaron Stanton of the vice unit.

"Making up these knock out concoctions is dangerous. Some of these victims were out for 12 to 14 hours," Stanton said.

Police reports indicate that one of the victims noticed a white crystal substance in the bottom of a glass he had been drinking out of. The substance turned out to be Xanax.

"It doesn't take a whole lot of anything to ask to go up to room and drop something into a drink," Stanton said. "I'm sure she developed a style over time. It's like being an actor in a play. Once you get your lines down, you can just do it over and over."

However carefully the stories were told or the drugs secretly dumped into a drink, the case turned when a fingerprint was found. The print in Jones' room was matched to Lane, police said.

Lane initially agreed to an interview in the jail Thursday, but then didn't answer questions. Her attorney, Jonathan MacArthur, would not discuss the facts of the case, but said Lane indicated to him she wanted to plead not guilty.

Stanton seemed a little surprised at the idea of pleading not guilty to the charges, especially when he started to recount all the items seized from Lane's and Davis' Las Vegas house on Sept. 7 that related back to some of the men who reported being drugged and robbed.

"We got a ton of stuff out of the house. There were men's wallets with their IDs, luggage with the tags and lots of men's jewelry," he said.

Plus a bunch of white hotel towels.

"There were a couple hundred of them," he said. "It was pretty strange. They were just stacked up everywhere. They were in every nook and cranny."

Other items included a laptop computer that belonged to Roger Edmond, who told police a familiar story of meeting a woman -- who matched Lane's description -- at the Luxor hotel in July. She came up to his room, where the two had some drinks. He soon fell asleep and woke the next morning to find the woman and his computer gone, according to a Metro Police report.

A cellular phone was also found at Lane's home that had Jones' home number as a recent call and a video camera of a competition Jones was in Las Vegas to attend in July, according to the report.

Jones said he never saw it coming.

"She was really smart," he said. "I mean my roommate was in the room when we got there and she just kind of looked over at him like she wanted me to get him out of there. It was just real smooth."

He soon found himself alone with the woman. They started drinking the beer they had gotten at the bar downstairs. Jones, who is 6-foot-4 and weighs about 300 pounds, said he never thought the 5-foot tall woman could do anything to him.

But as things started more to the romantic, Jones says, the woman was slyly moving it slower.

"She said he wanted to rest for five minutes and just get comfortable. Then she wanted another five minutes," he said.

While Jones was still awake, he said, the woman said she wanted to run a bath. Jones was on the bed as the water started filling the tub. The next thing he knew his friend was standing next to him yelling for him to get up.

"Man I was thinking this was easy. I got this woman in my room at 3 o'clock in the morning," he said. "The next thing I know I wake up and she stole the (gold) chains from my neck."

Sun reporter Kim Smith contributed to this story.

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