MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A 22-year-old South Florida woman with a history of arrests for prostitution is no longer a “person of interest” in a triple homicide on the Las Vegas Strip.
Police found Tineesha Lashun Howard late Wednesday in another state that police did not identify.
Howard also uses the name Yenesis or Yani Alfonzo.
Las Vegas police didn’t elaborate as to why she was no longer considered a person of interest but did say she was in an SUV with suspect Ammar Harris, when he fired shots that triggered a fiery, fatal chain-reaction crash on the Las Vegas Strip.
Last Thursday Harris, who was driving a black Range Rover SUV with several passengers, allegedly shot and killed aspiring rapper Wayne Cherry Jr. after the two got into an argument.
Mortally wounded, Cherry accelerated and slammed into a taxi cab that burst into flames, killing can driver Michael Boldon and his passenger, Sandra Sutton-Wasmund of Maple Valley, Washington.
On Tuesday, police issued a statement that they were looking for Alfonzo who was identified as being in Harris’ SUV. Along with the statement they distributed several pictures of her with Harris. One problem though – the woman in the picture was not Alfonzo.
The woman in the photo was actually another Miami woman, Tasha Malek, who is not connected to the shooting in any way. In an exclusive interview, Malek told CBS4’s Brian Andrews she knew Harris when he lived in her downtown Miami building, but that they were friends and that’s it.
“Did he seem like the kind of guy who would go crazy on the Las Vegas Strip?” Andrews asked Malek.
“Not at all. Not at all,” she replied.
Miami Beach arrested him for reckless driving at 36th Street and Collins Avenue last December after he was seen speeding and weaving in and out of traffic and endangering people on Collins Avenue. Police say he was also cited for driving without a valid license.
According to a police report, he lived in an apartment near Biscayne Boulevard on Northeast 68th Street.
Malek had a part in a reality TV show on cable. Now, she’s in the medical equipment business. She said she can’t believe her photo was thrust into this whole mess, with the Las Vegas Police Department calling her Tineesha Howard, a prostitute and ‘person of interest’.
“It was a combination of bad luck, sloppy police work, recklessness, and them releasing something before they even thought about it,” said Malek’s attorney, Michael Grieco.
“I don’t know anything regarding this situation so but I am being cooperative. This is not me. That’s all I can tell them. I had nothing to do with the situation,” Malek said.
Malek’s photos were no longer on the Las Vegas Police Department website as of Wednesday night.
“I understand they are trying to catch a murderer, but you can’t run over somebody’s life in the process and that’s what they did. This poor girl has been through too much in two days because the cops couldn’t figure out whose picture they were putting out,” Grieco said.
“They say they pulled them off of someone’s Facebook or his Facebook. I didn’t even know that he had a Facebook account. I don’t know how they got them or why they even think we look alike or whatever…but it’s really sad on their part,” Malek said.
Records show Alfonzo’s father Emilio lives in Homestead. When CBS4 went to his listed address, an unidentified man said he was a relative but added, “I don’t want to say anything.”
On Wednesday, a man identifying himself as Emilio Alfonzo went on Alfonzo’s Facebook page and posted two messages.
“Yeny, call me now,” read one in Spanish.
The other message, also in Spanish, said, “You’ve got me worried. Call me. You are very important. Everything has a solution.”
A woman identifying herself as Alfonzo’s mother told CNN that her daughter and Harris went out for about a year. She told CNN that she had not spoken with her daughter since before the shooting.
A $35,000 reward has been posted for information leading to the arrest of Harris who police said should be considered armed and dangerous.