Pedestrians walk down the Las Vegas Strip after police closed it to traffic on December 20.
Las Vegas crash suspect charged with murder
01:50 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

NEW: Lakeisha Holloway faces 3 counts: murder with a car, child abuse, leaving an accident scene

NEW: District attorney indicates more charges are likely as investigation unfolds

In October, suspect legally changed her name to Paris Paradise Morton

CNN  — 

Years before police said she intentionally drove onto a Las Vegas Strip sidewalk, killing one person and injuring 37 others, Lakeisha Holloway was publicly honored for turning her life around.

On Tuesday, she was formally charged with murder with a deadly weapon and with one count of leaving the scene of an accident, also a felony, according to a criminal complaint. She faces a third felony, which is child abuse, neglect or endangerment, in connection with her small child’s presence in the car.

More charges are expected as the investigation unfolds, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Just three years ago, Holloway spoke of how her life was taking a turn for the better.

“Boy, have I come a long ways,” Holloway said in a 2012 video by the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, which helps at-risk youth with education and career training.

“I was a scared little girl who knew that there was more to life outside of crime, drug addiction, lower income, alcoholism, being undereducated – all of which I grew up being familiar with.”

Thanks to the nonprofit, she went from homelessness to a job with the federal government and “living the grand life.”

Lakeisha N. Holloway

But now, the 24-year-old faces serious charges after allegedly plowing into dozens of pedestrians with her 3-year-old daughter inside her car.

What would cause a woman who showed so much promise to do something so savage, as police claim?

“She would not explain why she drove onto the sidewalk but remembered a body bouncing off of her windshield, breaking it,” authorities said in her arrest report.

Changing her name to Paris Paradise Morton

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson indicated more charges are likely.

“Our hearts go out to the victims and their families,” the prosecutor said in a statement. “This is a horrendous and inexcusable act that has needlessly and tragically impacted countless lives. I am confident that, as the investigation unfolds, we will be filing many more charges against Ms. Holloway.”

Under a new state law that went into effect October 1, leaving an accident scene where an injury occurred is now punishable by up to 20 years in prison and is non-probational, the prosecutor said.

In October, Holloway legally changed her name to Paris Paradise Morton, according to a court judgment in Oregon. Authorities, however, have continued to identify her by her former name.

Homeless again

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said it’s not clear what may have caused Holloway to “snap.”

“We believe that she had some disassociation with the father of her child,” the sheriff said,

He said investigators think Holloway had been in Las Vegas for about a week, homeless and living in her car.

But a family representative told CNN that Holloway wasn’t homeless, had a job and comes from a loving family. The representative declined to comment on what could have prompted the incident.

The sheriff said police don’t know what “caused her to snap and/or whether it was planned previously.”