Morgan Amaya was a familiar face around The Boxxx Eastside Bar and Venue, a Las Vegas watering hole just a few blocks away from the apartment where the 22-year-old San Diego native’s body was found stuffed inside a suitcase last week.
Amaya often hung out in the backroom with employees and artists who were performing, according to Daniel James, a 35-year-old part-time soundman and DJ.
“She was just so nice,” James told The Daily Beast, describing her as a pretty, doe-eyed young woman. “She was a very friendly person who was always lifting people’s spirits up and caring about everyone.”
But James said that when he heard that Amaya had allegedly been murdered by her roommate Gary Walker, 35, he wasn’t completely surprised.
“I knew she was staying with Gary,” James said. “But she was also afraid of him. He would come into the bar looking for her, and I would tell him I didn’t know her or who he was talking about.”
Authorities say Walker fatally shot Amaya in the head on Feb. 4 during an argument inside the apartment they shared, before forcing another woman to stuff her body inside a suitcase. He’s been arrested on several charges, including murder, sexual assault, first-degree kidnapping with a deadly weapon, and assault with a deadly weapon, the Las Vegas Police Department told The Daily Beast.
Authorities said they learned of the heinous crime after an unnamed woman made a harrowing escape from Walker’s grasp at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas on Feb. 5, telling a marshal that the 35-year-old had sexually assaulted her at gunpoint and forced her to clean up the blood-soaked apartment where he’d killed Amaya.
According to an arrest report obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Amaya spent the last minutes of her life wrestling for control of a gun Walker pulled on her during an argument at his apartment.
On Feb. 4, Walker picked up Amaya and the other woman from Clark County Detention Center and drove them back to his place. The clerk’s online database shows Amaya had been arrested for driving under the influence three days earlier and had been released that day.
Walker then headed off to work and the two women stayed in the apartment, where they began to heavily drink, the arrest report states. When Walker returned, he joined them—but began to argue with Amaya while she was making dinner.
The argument became “heated,” and Walker got aggressive with Amaya before leaving the apartment, the unnamed woman told investigators.
When he came back, Walker had a handgun, she added.
Amaya and Walker were yelling at each other when he reached into his pocket, pulled out the pistol, and pointed it at her, according to the arrest report. She then began to wrestle with Walker.
“They both fell to the floor and (the woman) heard a gunshot,” the report states. “(The woman) immediately ran into the laundry room located inside the same apartment where she tried to hide from Gary. Walker located the surviving woman and pointed a gun at her.”
Walker sexually assaulted the woman at gunpoint and then forced her to clean up Amaya’s blood as he attempted to place the body in garbage bags, according to the report. He then decided to dispose of the corpse by placing it in a suitcase, the second woman said.
After being sexually assaulted again, the second woman lied to Walker about having a court date in the morning that she didn’t want to miss, the report states. He allegedly agreed to take her to the city’s Regional Justice Center, where the woman was able to approach a Las Vegas marshal and told him she was being held against her will.
Walker was detained by Las Vegas police as officers went to his apartment on North Nellis Boulevard, where they recovered Amaya’s body in the suitcase. During a police interview, Walker allegedly said that the gun was on the couch when Amaya came at him, and they fought for the weapon before it landed on the floor.
“And they both grabbed at it, at which time the gun shot one time, and Morgan looked like she had been shot in the head,” according to the arrest report. “Walker stated it was an accident, and he did not intend to shoot Morgan.”
Abby Amaya, the deceased victim’s 24-year-old sister, told The Daily Beast she’s spent nearly every day crying since learning about her sibling’s brutal murder.
“I don’t know if shock is even the word to describe how I feel,” she said. “A better word would be violated or traumatized.”
The sisters, born in San Diego, spent their early childhood growing up on military bases in California, Washington, and Alaska, Abby Amaya said. After grade school, her parents split up. Morgan and Abby went to live in Arizona with their mother, who passed away when the sisters were in their teens.
An aspiring singer and songwriter, Morgan Amaya moved to Las Vegas when she was 19 with her then-boyfriend, her sister recalled. After breaking up with her boyfriend she began dating a man named Miles Spano, whom Morgan Amaya married on April 19, 2018, according to Las Vegas marriage license records. (Spano has not been reached for comment.)
After giving birth to their daughter, Morgan Amaya and Spano separated and she got caught up in the Las Vegas party scene, Abby Amaya said. “But recently she was trying to organize her living situation and come back to Arizona,” Abby said of her sister. “She wanted to get sober and get away from all that shit.”
Abby Amaya said she doesn’t know any details about why her sister was living with Walker, but that Morgan Amaya had known him for a little while before he allegedly killed her. “She didn’t tell me how she met him,” Abby Amaya said.
She said she is focusing on raising money through GoFundMe for Morgan Amaya’s funeral services. “Once we figure out how much funds we have, we will hold a memorial that really reflects who she was,” Abby Amaya said. “And anything left over would go toward an education fund for her daughter.”