Lakeisha Holloway crash Suspect: What We Know
They were celebrating her determination and success in breaking the cycle of homelessness and graduating from Rosemary Anderson High School with a 3.4 GPA and $17,000 in scholarships.
Now she’s behind bars in Las Vegas, accused of murder.
When she shared her story back in 2012, Holloway said her mother gave up hope and put her out on the street when she was just a freshman in high school in Portland. It was devastating at first, but Lakeisha said she was able to turn her life around, with the help of a non-profit organization for at-risk youth.
The Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center honored Holloway on that day – April 5, 2012 – with a special award for being a role model for other youth.
Just a few months later, she posted a smiling photo on Facebook, looking healthy with a baby bump and letting friends know she had a little one on the way.
She was also featured in a POIC video as “a case study in resilience” after starting classes at Portland Community College and getting a job with the U.S. Forest Service.(Her interview appears about 2 minutes into the video.)
“Today I am not the same scared girl I used to be. I am a mature young woman who has broken many generational cycles that those before hadn’t,” she said in the video. “Being homeless and struggling on my own taught me to stand on my own two feet. I managed to land a federal job at age 21 – now that is what I call living the grand life.”
But on December 21, 2015, Lakeisha Holloway, now 24, was back to struggling with life on the street. This time, living out of a car with her own young daughter in Vegas, according to Clark County, Nevada Sheriff Joe Lombardo.
She used that car to deliberately ram into more than 35 pedestrians walking along the Vegas strip, Lombardo said.
Witnesses said she was “stoic” after the tragedy, telling a parking valet what she had done and calmly asking him to call 911. Then she parked her car outside a hotel and walked away, leaving her 3-year-old daughter in the back seat, Lombardo said.
Holloway was found and arrested a short time later. Investigators so far have no motive, no specific information from Holloway explaining what may have driven her to plow into the crowd of innocent people in Vegas.
Lombardo said Holloway told investigators that she had been parking her car in front of different structures across Las Vegas, including at the Planet Hollywood hotel-casino, for days. She would sleep inside the car with her daughter, except some nights when parking attendants would order her to leave.
Holloway and the girl’s father had a recent “falling out” and they were no longer together, according to Lombardo. But she had run out of money and may have been on her way to see him in Dallas, Texas.
Holloway lived in Portland up until one week ago, and also Vancouver for a short time in 2015.
The smiling face in the photos from the 2012 POIC award ceremony is a stark contrast to Holloway’s Monday mug shot. She now faces murder with a deadly weapon. Additional charges of hit-and run, attempted murder, child abuse and neglect are pending, police said.
Holloway’s daughter is now in child protective custody.
The people injured in the Vegas crash were taken to hospitals, including victims from Oregon, Florida, Colorado, California, Washington, Mexico and Quebec, Canada. The person who died was a 32-year-old Arizona woman visiting Vegas with her husband.
Investigators are working to piece together what lead up to this violent assault.
Sheriff Lombardo said Holloway did not appear to be drunk, but may have taken stimulants before the crash. A blood sample was sent to the crime lab for testing.
Less than two months ago, she decided she wanted to change her name. She filed a petition to change it to Paris Paradise Morton on Oct. 8, and a judge granted permission on Oct. 30.
The only other court records linked to Holloway show she was charged in Oregon in 2011 with operating a vehicle without driving privileges and driving uninsured. She was convicted in March 2012.
LaShay Hardaway, who identified herself as one of Holloway’s cousins, said Lakeisha was very tired lately and blamed that for the crash.
“She’s been more exhausted. She’s just ambitious and just loves to work,” Hardaway said. “What those other families are seeing is this villain who is projected on TV. What our family is seeing, is this person that we know, that is like two different people.”
KGW contacted POIC CEO Joe McFerrin II, for comment. But so far, he has not returned our inquiries about Holloway and any connections she may still have with the Portland organization.