In September 2011, the glamorous city of Las Vegas in Nevada was shocked by the discovery of the remains of a teen who was raped and then mutilated and badly burnt. Alyssa Otremba, 15, was a high school student who disappeared while returning from a friend’s home. It was a hotline tip that helped police unravel this disturbing and brutal crime.
Investigation Discovery’s ‘On the Case With Paula Zahn: In the Shadows of Home’ extensively and meticulously untangle the details of the unsettling and complicated case. If you are interested to learn more about the case, including the identity and the current whereabouts of the perpetrator, we have got you covered. Without further ado, let’s dive in then, shall we?
How Did Alyssa Otremba Die?
Born to Scott and Jennifer Otremba, Alyssa Page Otremba was a 15-year-old teen raised as a military child alongside her two sisters, Megan and Hayden. She was an Arbor View High School student and had just finished the first week of her sophomore year. On September 2, 2011, Alyssa was reportedly sick and skipped school. She needed to get her homework done and told her mother that she wished to go to her friend Cody’s place to borrow his geometry book. Though Jennifer was hesitant at first, she eventually agreed. Alyssa even texted her to say she would be home by 7.
Alyssa’s last text to her mother was that she was walking home, and her cell battery was dying. When she did not return home even after 30 minutes, her family started to get worried. It was around 10 pm when Jennifer notified the police. Soon, the Otrembas and their friends began to search for the missing teen. The next day, the police discovered the badly burned body of a young girl inside a vacant tunnel, approximately 100 yards from the Otremba residence.
The medical examiners used Alyssa’s dental records to confirm the identity of the burned remains. The body was naked from the waist down and showed signs of blunt force trauma and multiple stab wounds. With the help of the bodily fluids, the experts affirmed that Alyssa had been sexually assaulted before her death. Alyssa had been stabbed more than 80 times in the face and torso, according to police reports. It was so brutal that the knife got bent with a portion of it getting stuck to the skull of the 15-year-old. The experts determined multiple stab wounds as the cause of death.
Who Killed Alyssa Otremba?
Blood trail from the scene showed that Alyssa was quite close to her home when she was abducted and killed. The investigators theorized that she might have been grabbed from behind and coerced to go to the tunnel where she was raped and then stabbed and burnt. They interviewed Cody, who said he wasn’t at home that night and told Alyssa so. The statement was confirmed, and he was ruled out as a suspect. The DNA samples collected from the scene could not find a match in CODIS. As the case was going cold, the police released some case details and even set up a hotline asking the public for help.
It was a tip the police received from a girl named Elizabeth Morales, 18, that finally helped them capture the assailant. Elizabeth told the police that she was out on a date with her boyfriend Daniel AKA Danny on that night when the latter received around 50 calls from his best friend, Javier Righetti. Eventually, as per Elizabeth, Danny went off to help him. Before leaving, he allegedly told Elizabeth that he thought his friend had killed someone.
When police interrogated Danny, he was uncooperative at first but revealed everything when under tough interrogation. He told the authorities that he drove Javier to a gas station where the latter borrowed money from him to fill a gas can. Danny added that he drove his 19-year-old friend back to the crime scene but did not see anything since he had driven away. The police knew that the assailant had returned to the crime scene to burn the body to erase the evidence. Thus, the authorities felt they had found their prime suspect — Javier Righetti.
In the first week of September 2011, the investigators, along with a SWAT team, arrested Javier Righetti from his home in the northwest part of the city. As per arrest reports, he admitted to raping and murdering Alyssa. Javier also reportedly told authorities that he had carved the initials “LV” into the teen’s body before burning it. Police reports stated that he also had confessed to three other rapes, including two in the same tunnel where he attacked Alyssa. It was also discovered that Javier already had a warrant to his name a month before this incident for raping his cousin.
Where Is Javier Righetti Today?
In February 2017, Javier Righetti pleaded guilty to 10 counts, including sexual assault on a child, first-degree kidnapping, and murder with the use of a deadly weapon. His nine pleas stood except for the one plea deal on first-degree murder, which was turned down by both the lower court and the Nevada Supreme court. On February 23, a judge found Javier mentally competent to face the death penalty. On March 21, 2017, the Eighth Judicial District Court of Nevada sentenced Javier to death after around 3 hours of deliberation.
At 24, Javier became the youngest inmate on death row in Nevada’s history. The Otremba family welcomed the sentence, with Jennifer saying, “He didn’t consider her life. We’ve been fighting for justice for her.” It was reported in 2020, that Javier allegedly engaged in a fight with another inmate, who was hospitalized after being severely stabbed during the scuffle. Javier is presently incarcerated in a solitary cell at the Ely State Prison, where he is kept in isolation for 23 hours every day.