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Missing in America

Body found near Las Vegas identified as missing 23-year-old Izaak Towery

The body of 23-year-old Izaak Towery was identified Tuesday after being found outside his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Izaak Towery Angelina Birong

According to a press release, on Sunday, February 25 at approximately 5:11 p.m. PST, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department “was notified by the Nevada Department of Forestry of a deceased male found in the area of [State Route 157 at mile marker 10.]”

“We sent our homicide detectives out there and discovered the victim had been stabbed,” Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Public Information Officer Larry Hadfield told Dateline Wednesday. “The homicide detective believed, due to the evidence and circumstances there, that the crime had happened at that scene.”

Officer Hadfield told Dateline detectives were unable to identify the body at the scene.

“Unfortunately, the body had been out there for some time [and] was partially decomposing,” he said. “We couldn’t identify him out at the scene based on anything he had on him.”

On Tuesday, two days after the body was found, the Clark County Coroner’s Office formally identified the body as Izaak. Izaak’s family was notified before his name was publicly released.

A family member had reached out to Dateline on Sunday night about featuring Izaak’s story in the online series ‘Missing in America.’ In an eerie coincidence, the request came within hours of Izaak’s unidentified body being found.

As Dateline reported on Monday, Izaak was last seen on February 9, 2018. He had been hanging out at his friend Michael VanCleef’s house.

“We parted ways around nine o’clock,” Michael told Dateline on Monday. “The neighborhood was buzzing. There are always people out in my neighborhood.”

Izaak lived with his mother, Angelina Birong, in a home that’s just a 10-minute walk from Michael’s. But he never made it home that night.

“It’s not uncommon for him to be away for a night -- or even two. But there is always some form of contact -- a text, a funny picture or something,” Angelina told Dateline on Monday. “After two days of no contact, I knew something was wrong.”

Angelina then reported Izaak as missing. This past Monday, while speaking to Dateline for the original report, Officer Hadfield said Izaak had not been listed as an endangered missing person because he was “an adult, and there [were] no suspicious circumstances” surrounding the event at the time, except the fact that he wasn’t answering his phone.

“[This case] doesn’t warrant a search or anything. We have it noted, [but] he has no obligation to contact anyone,” Officer Hadfield explained Monday. “It would be an endangered [missing persons case if he] had a mental illness or something of that nature, but none of that was listed.”

Dateline reached out to Angelina again on Wednesday, but hadn’t heard back by evening.

“I wouldn’t have ever in a millions years imagined that this would have happened to one of my closest friends,” Michael VanCleef told Dateline when reached on Wednesday. “I’m doing the best I can. I’m trying to keep moving forward, not let my mind dwell. [The] kid wasn’t a bad guy. [He] was always in high spirits. [I] wish my best friend was still here -- this all seems like a bad dream.”

Officer Hadfield told Dateline Izaak’s case is now being treated as a murder investigation.

“We’re going through the investigative process right now,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of information on this. We will go through the person’s background, interview family, etcetera.”

According to Officer Hadfield, authorities have not identified any suspects or motives at this time.

If you have any information regarding the circumstances of Izaak’s disappearance or death, please contact the LVMPD Homicide Section at 702-828-3521, or by email at homicide@lvmpd.com. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 702-385-5555, or on the internet at www.crimestoppersofnv.com. Tips leading directly to an arrest or indictment processed through Crime Stoppers may be eligible for a cash reward.