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Police arrest 18-year-old man in connection with girl’s slaying

May 29, 1997

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) _ While her father gambled the night away, a 7-year-old girl was raped and killed in a Nevada casino restroom. An 18-year-old high school student who allegedly befriended her was arrested.

Jeremy Strohmeyer was arrested for investigation of the slaying of Sherrice Iverson, whose body was found before dawn Sunday at the Primadonna Resort _ one of three hotel-casinos in Primm, 43 miles southwest of Las Vegas.

Strohmeyer was arrested at his home in Long Beach late Wednesday, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Sgt. Bill Keeton said. He was held without bail pending extradition proceedings.

Strohmeyer and a friend of his told two teen-age girls in Long Beach about the killing, the girls told their parents and their parents called authorities, Las Vegas police said today.

Sherrice had arrived at the casino early Sunday with her father, Leroy Iverson, 57, of Los Angeles, and 14-year-old brother.

Security guards had warned Sherrice’s family three times that night not to leave her alone in an arcade while they were gambling, a source connected with the casino said. The source spoke on condition of anonymity.

``Our security found the young girl alone at 1:33 a.m. and paged her family, and her older brother came and got her,″ Primadonna Chief Operating Officer Chris Gibase said in a statement earlier this week. ``Tragically, she was left alone again later that night.″

But Iverson’s attorney, Eddie J. Harris, denied that the girl was unsupervised. Harris called Iverson a ``conscientious parent″ who let Sherrice out of his sight only once when she went to the restroom.

Repeated phone calls to Iverson’s Los Angeles home Wednesday went unanswered and an Associated Press staffer who went to the home was told by a woman he was unavailable for comment. The woman would not give her name.

Keeton said Strohmeyer gained Sherrice’s trust by playing with her. Casino surveillance tapes show Sherrice possibly playing hide-and-seek in the arcade with two men.

At 3:48 a.m., she darted into the women’s restroom, and one of the men followed her. The man came out alone 25 minutes later. Several women went in while the man was inside, police said.

Las Vegas Lt. Wayne Petersen said a witness described the suspect as having nipple rings and a stud in his tongue. Keeton said Strohmeyer matches the physical description of the suspect.

Strohmeyer also made statements implicating himself in the girl’s killing, Keeton said, refusing to elaborate. Authorities also said they have physical evidence connecting Strohmeyer to the slaying.

A friend of Strohmeyer’s turned himself in Wednesday to the La Palma, Calif., police but was released after detectives concluded he was not involved in the slaying.

The surveillance tape showed one man go into the restroom with the girl. The other was seen standing outside.

Iverson was investigated for possible child abuse in 1993 after he brought his 2-year-old son to a hospital with severely burned hands, but he was not charged because evidence was inconclusive, said Deputy District Attorney Susan Powers. The child’s mother is dead, according to records on file in the D.A.’s office, Powers said.

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