Behind bars: 7 infamous criminals who served time in Nevada

Behind bars: 7 infamous criminals who served time in Nevada

Photo courtesy of Markus Spiske via Unsplash.

By Aleza Freeman

July 9, 2024

Here are seven of the most infamous criminals under lock and key in Nevada prisons.

Nevada was once the Wild West but nowadays were all about law and order.

Over the years, we’ve seen many infamous criminals pass through the Silver State including mobsters, murderers, and more. Some of them have even done, or are doing time, in one of our state’s 11 correctional facilities.

From a man who led a group of robbers on a Las Vegas crime spree to a woman who crashed into a crowd on a sidewalk in Reno just to watch them die, here are 7 of the most infamous criminals under lock and key in Nevada, both dead and alive.

1. O.J. Simpson

Correctional Facility: Lovelock Correctional Center
Sentence: 33 years; released in 2017
Status: Deceased

The year was 1995. The country was deeply divided. Not because of politics. Not because of religion. Because former Buffalo Bills running back O.J. Simpson was acquitted in the slaying of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman. Simpson went free and lawyers, to this day, debate the nuances of rhyming “fit” and “acquit.” 

In 2007, Simpson found himself in hot water again after leading a group of men into a hotel room and taking some sports memorabilia while brandishing a gun. He was convicted in 2008 of armed robbery and kidnapping, landing him in High Desert State Prison before a transfer to the Lovelock Correctional Center in Pershing County. While Simpson was released in 2017, his get-out-of-jail card didn’t buy him much time as he died of cancer this year. He was 76.

2. Henry Ruggs III

Correctional Facility: Stewart Conservation Camp
Sentence: Three to 10 years
Status: Alive

Not long after the Raiders moved to Las Vegas, the team got some bad publicity. Their wide receiver, Henry Ruggs III, caused a tragic drunk-driving accident that upended his rising career.

He is serving a three to 10-year sentence at the minimum security Stewart Conservation Camp in Northern Nevada for the 2021 accident that led to the death of the other driver, a young woman, and her dog.

Immediately after the accident, the Raiders organization issued a statement offering condolences for the “devastating loss of life.” According to 8 News Now, Ruggs is currently making $2.50 an hour at the Nevada Governor’s Mansion in Carson City as part of a Nevada Department of Corrections program for low security-risk prisoners.

3. Priscilla Ford

Correctional Facility: Southern Nevada Correctional Facility
Sentence: Death
Status: Deceased from emphysema

Thanksgiving Day in 1980 turned into a tragedy in Nevada’s Biggest Little City when Reno resident Priscilla Ford drove a Lincoln Continental into a parade crowd killing six people and injuring 23. Previously diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic, Ford was reportedly hearing voices telling her to kill at the time of the massacre. 

Despite her mental health issues, Ford was pronounced guilty, sentenced to death by gas chamber, and imprisoned at Southern Nevada Correctional Facility. Her death sentence was repeatedly postponed by appeals and sanity hearings, and she ended up dying from emphysema in 2005 while still on death row. She was 75.

4. Jose Vigoa 

Correctional Facility: Ely State Prison
Sentence: Four life sentences without parole
Status: Alive

In what sounds a bit like the plot of a blockbuster heist film (and is currently in development to become one), Jose Vigoa led a crew of bandits on a Las Vegas Strip crime spree between 1998 and 2000, robbing multiple casinos and armored cars. Adding to the drama, the Cuban-born, Societ-trained commando and his group killed two guards in the process. 

As the ring leader of this ill-fated group, Vigoa was facing the death penalty. Instead, he pled guilty, apologized, and got four life sentences without parole in Ely State Prison–but not before attempting to escape from jail. Vigoa is the subject of a 2004 episode of “The FBI Files” on the Discovery Channel and a 2009 national bestselling book, “Storming Las Vegas.”

5. Scott Dozier

Correctional Facility: Ely State Prison
Sentence: Death
Status: Deceased by suicide

Scott Raymond Dozier was a lifelong Nevadan. He was born in Boulder City and died in Ely, at the state prison, where he was serving on death row, until his suicide in 2019. An Army veteran, he was on death row for the drug-related murders of two men. He was expected to become the first inmate executed in Nevada in almost a decade after requesting to expedite his death sentence in 2016. 

Dozier’s execution by lethal injection was postponed several times and the inmate’s mental health declined. Before the ongoing legal issues about the injection drug could be resolved, Dozier became the victim of bureaucracy. He was found dead in his cell, by his own hand, in 2018. He was 48.

6. Thomas Randolph

Correctional Facility: Ely State Prison
Sentence: Two life sentences
Status: Alive

Earlier this year, Thomas Randolph, a.k.a. the Black Widower, was handed two life sentences in Ely State Prison for the murder of his sixth wife and his handyman. It was the second time the Las Vegas murderer was tried for the crime. The original conviction was overturned by a judge. It had to do with evidence heard by jurors about the death of Randolph’s second wife. 

Randolph maintains his innocence to this day. For the sordid details, check out the three-part Dateline documentary “The Widower.”

7. Kelsey Turner

Correctional Facility: Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center
Sentence: 10 to 25 years
Status: Alive

A Playboy bunny, her ex-boyfriend, and a psychiatrist walk into a room. The bunny and her ex-boyfriend beat the doctor to death with a bat and stuff him into the trunk of his car. That’s essentially what went down in the case of adult model Kelsey Turner

Turner is doing 10 to 15 years at Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Center for her role in the brutal slaying. The adult model signed a plea deal and pled guilty to second-degree murder for the killing of California psychiatrist, Dr. Thomas Burchard, in 2023, but maintains her innocence. Her ex is also in prison.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Behind bars: 7 infamous criminals who served time in NevadaBehind bars: 7 infamous criminals who served time in Nevada

  • Aleza Freeman

    Aleza Freeman is a Las Vegas native and award-winning journalist with two decades of experience writing and editing lifestyle, travel, entertainment, and human interest stories in Nevada. Her work has appeared in AARP magazine, Haute Living and Nevada Magazine.

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