Zaela Walker (2)
Las Vegas, Nevada
August 22, 2018
Zaela was last noticed in North Las Vegas, Nevada on August 22, 2018. She lived with her mum, Lakeia Walker, and maternal grandmother, Carla Richardson, in the 4600 block of Mission Cantina Ave at the time of her disappearance. Richardson reported Lakeia, Zaela, and Zaela’s dad, Ricky Beasley, missing on August 25.
By then, Richardson hadn’t noticed Zaela in nearly two weeks. Lakiea had left Zaela with Beasley on August 15 while she went on a job interview, and Beasley rejected returning the child later. Lakiea called 911 to attempt to get Zaela back and asked Beasley in text messages to return Zaela, but her daughter was not returned to her. Beasley said he just give Zaela back if Lakeia paid him $13,000, and Lakeia promised to raise the cash.
During that duration, Lakeia told her mum Beasley had taken Zaela to California to visit a relative. Richardson last saw her daughter when she left in a rush on August 22, saying, “I’ll be right back.”
According to Beasley’s mum, late on August 21, she heard a noisy thud coming from his bedroom that woke her up. She ran into the hallway and saw Beasley holding Zaela, who was screaming. Beasley said he’d gotten furious and thrown a cot against the wall after Zaela wet herself. He took the child into the bathroom to clean her off. The following day, Zaela and her parents vanished.
Photos of Beasley and Lakeia are posted with this case overview. The couple went on an unannounced trip, leaving behind their cell phones, Lakeia’s wallet, and her car. During their trip up and down the state of California and then east across the country, passing through New Mexico, Texas, Illinois, West Virginia, and Tennessee. Lakiea later stated they napped in the car at highway rest stops and never stopped in one place for long.
By September 17, the pair had run out of cash, so they came back to North Las Vegas to get Lakeia’s identification and credit cards. Lakiea met with one of her cousins there but dropped out of sight again after her cousin inquired about Zaela. They then wandered across the border into Tijuana, Mexico, and spent two days there, before going back to California. San Diego police interviewed Lakeia and Beasley at the time and inquired about the missing person report, but they told they were in no threat and that Zaela was with Beasley’s relatives.
On November 17, Lakeia and Beasley were detained in Houston, Texas, when police ran their names at a traffic stop and learned they, and their daughter, had been reported missing. Zaela wasn’t with them at the time and both her mum and dad said they hadn’t noticed her in many months. Lake initially said Zaela was living with Beasley’s relatives. Lakiea was released after 48 hours, but Beasley was booked for ownership of a stolen vehicle; he was driving his mum’s car, which he had taken without authorization.
Beasley and Lakeia returned to North Las Vegas after getting out of prison in TX and they were detained by police there in December. Lakiea was released, but Beasley was caught again on the stolen vehicle charge. He was thereafter jailed on charges of first-degree child abuse/neglect and abduction in Zaela’s disappearance.
The police questioned Lakeia many times, and she failed a polygraph test. She claimed Zaela was with numerous other people, including Beasley’s ex-girlfriend, his brother, and his mum. The data she gave “led detectives to think that Zaela was not alive.” Beasley’s story to police altered many times as well; at one point he said Zaela was with Lakeia, and another time he said she was with his mum. In a phone conversation with Beasley, while he was in prison, Lakeia said, “You always say nobody, no crime.”
A check of the couple’s cell phones, which they left behind in North Las Vegas, exhibited Beasley had performed Google searches on August 21 about how to stop seizures in kids, including whether marijuana would help. He went to a marijuana dispensary that day and bought some.
Investigators were able to verify that no one in Zaela’s mum’s or dad’s family ever had supervision of her after her disappearance in August and that her parents never reached out to anyone about her. Investigators think Zaela underwent a traumatic injury at the time of her disappearance and perished as a result, and that her parents disposed of her corpse, then went on the run.
Lakiea had asked to be with Zaela after Beasley took her in mid-August and declined to return her, but after August 23 she unexpectedly stopped exhibiting any interest in her daughter’s whereabouts or well-being. She didn’t even attempt to call or text Zaela on her child’s third birthday or send her a card or present.
Although Beasley’s mum stated she generally kept her car clean, Lakeia told police that while she and Beasley were traveling around the country after Zaela’s disappearance, there was a horrible smell coming from the car’s trunk, “like rotten meat”. She and Beasley attempted to get rid of the smell by vacuuming the trunk and cleaning it with lemon-scented ammonia. Police stated the smell Lakeia described is compatible with decaying human remains.
In March 2019, Beasley, who was still in prison on the other charges, was charged with killing in his daughter’s disappearance, and Lakeia was arrested on the same penalties. The couple is awaiting trial for the killing. Authorities don’t know the location of Zaela’s corpse, but foul play is presumed in her case due to the situations involved.
North Las Vegas Police Department 702-633-9111