It was the 9th of April, 2021, when Christine Halseth, the mother of 45-year-old Daniel Halseth, became concerned after she had not heard from him for a couple of days. She had called him repeatedly but the phone just rang and rang with Daniel never answering. She had called up his 16-year-old daughter, Sierra, and inquired about his whereabouts. She was informed that he was in the shower and that his phone was broken.
Christine then contacted Peggy Newman, Daniel’s friend and landlord. Peggy drove over to Daniel’s home in Las Vegas only to find that the front door was wide open. As soon as she entered the home, the distinct aroma of fire wafted up their nostrils. She proceeded through the home calling out Daniel’s name but received no response. 1 Elizabeth immediately left the home and called for the fire brigade.
Firefighters responded to the home on the 8400 block of Dunphy Court. They entered the home and made their way to the garage, where the smoke was billowing from. There was a small fire which was extinguished. As soon as the flames were tamed, the firefighters recoiled in horror to find the lifeless body of a man. It was Daniel. They could immediately see that the fire was not the cause of his death. He had sharp force injuries to his head, neck and torso. There had also been an attempt to dismember his body. The fire had then been set in an attempt to conceal the murder.2
Investigators were called to the scene where they discovered blood throughout the home. They also discovered a saw which had apparent blood and tissue on the blade. Meanwhile, Daniel’s body was transported to the medical examiner’s office where it was discovered he had been stabbed and slashed over 70 times. After his death, his body was mutilated.
Daniel had previously been married to Nevada State Senator Elizabeth Halseth, and the couple had three children. Their 11 year marriage had been marred by allegations of domestic abuse, and the marriage ultimately culminated in a bitter divorce after Daniel pleaded guilty to two counts of coercion and battery. Elizabeth had been granted primary custody of Sierra and her two siblings I 2011, but in 2020, the couple began disputing the custody arrangement.
Shortly before Daniel was murdered, he had shared his displeasure at the relationship between his 16-year-old daughter, Sierra, and her 18-year-old boyfriend, Aaron Guerrero. The young couple had been dating since June of 2020, and they had recently just begun plotting to rob their parents and run away to Los Angeles. However, Daniel caught wind of the grim plan and forbid Sierra from seeing Aaron. Undeterred, the couple began plotting something much more sinister.
In the pre-dawn hours of April 8, 2021, Aaron ran away from home. Over the next couple of hours, he and Sierra purchased a chainsaw and a circular saw as well as a handsaw, and lighter fluid. They also bought disposable gloves and a drop cloth. Sierra and Aaron then stole more than $1,300 from the account that Daniel shared with his ex-wife.
After killing Daniel, the couple stole some money and his car before fleeing to Salt Lake City. As family tried to get in contact with him, Sierra sent messages to her grandmother in an effort to keep her away from the home. In a message, Christine wrote: “Hey, Sierra, I’m trying to get a hold of your dad, where is he?” Sierra replied: “His phone has been acting up but he’s okay, it should be fixed by tomorrow night, no worries.” The charade continued, but by now, Elizabeth had discovered that money was missing from their joint bank account and suspicions were mounting.3
As the couple were on the run, they recorded a video on Sierra’s cell phone. In the video, the two laughed and joked about the murder of Daniel. They were lying together in a tent as they announced that this was their YouTube channel, and that it had now been three days since the murder.4 Sierra burst into laughter and stated: “Whoa, don’t put that on camera.” The couple then discussed sex before Aaron said: “It was worth it.”
On 13 April, Sierra and Aaron were stopped by transit officers in Salt Lake City after they got off a light rail I the downtown area without paying for tickets. The officer ran a background check and discovered that they were wanted for murder in Las Vegas. They immediately called police who arrested the couple on the spot. They eventually tracked down the couple’s car, where they discovered a bloody rug. When Sierra’s cell phone was examined, they found the incriminating video which was essentially a confession.
In Las Vegas, a teenager aged 16-years-old or older is automatically charged as an adult. The couple were extradited to Clark County where they were both charged with Daniel’s murder as well as conspiracy, arson, robbery and fraudulent use of a credit card.
After the charges were filed, Daniel’s family released a statement which read: “Daniel Halseth was first and foremost a loving father, brother, and son, who was the heart of the Halseth family. To have him taken from us in such a horrific, savage, senseless, and violent act of murder leaves us heartbroken, and our grief is unyielding. The total lack of remorse on display in the video is both reprehensible and unforgivable. While we are grateful for the work of the detective and the district attorney, we are waiting for justice to be served with the maximum accountability allowed. We loved Dan very much and we miss him every moment of the day. This is the only statement we will be making and ask for privacy and understanding.”5
Sierra and Aaron subsequently pleaded not guilty to the murder of Daniel, but in May of 2022, they appeared in court where they changed their pleas from not guilty to guilty. They pleaded guilty to nine counts, including murder, arson and robbery.6 The couple were sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 22 years. They were also ordered to pay $5,000 in restitution.
In handing down the sentence, District Judge Tierra Jones said: “This is a very, very tragic situation. I wish that there was something that I was going to say or something that I could do that would stop all the suffering that is going on.”7
- International Business Times, 14 April, 2021 – “Remorseless Teen Tried to Dismember Dad’s Body After Killing Him with Boyfriend’s Help”
- Las Vegas Journal-Review, 14 April, 2021 – “Suspects, 18 and 16, Face Murder Charges After Burned Body Found”
- Las Vegas Review-Journal, 8 June, 2021 – “Teen Charged with Killing Father Tried to Keep Concerned Family Away”
- Las Vegas Review-Journal, 22 May, 2021 – “Teens Indicted in Slaying of Girl’s Father”
- The Independent, 10 June, 2021 – “Teens Jokes on Video”
- CBS – 12 KWCH, 25 May, 2022 – “Teens Plead Guilty to Killing Girl’s Father”
- Las Vegas Review-Journal, 20 October, 2022 – “Teen Girl, Boyfriend Sentenced to Life in Prison”
We humans are so infinitely fascinating. Great write up, I enjoyed reading it.
Thanks for all the hard work you do documenting all the abhorrent things we humans do to one another. I personally appreciate it.