The Crime

Nancy and her friend, meet Robert Ybarra Jr., a stranger, at the County Park on Aultman Street in Ely, NV on Friday night, September 28, 1979. She and her friend, are transported to his trailer where she drinks a beer and may have used drugs. Ybarra consumes around four six-packs of beer beginning late that afternoon and consumes amounts of drugs marijuana, cocaine and Valium.

Sometime after 9:30 p.m., Ybarra takes Nancy Griffith for a ride on Highway 50, about 26 miles west of Ely, NV, to 30 Mile Road, where he drives about 3 more miles north. At this point he parks his small, red pickup and tries to "take advantage" of Griffith

Griffith escaped through the back window of the truck's camper shell and ran up to the wash where Ybarra caught up with her, they struggled and her tennis shoes were removed, still tied, but Nancy escaped again. Griffith ran up the hill her in stocking feet where Ybarra caught her again and began to beat and kick her. Ybarra removed her tan pants and white underwear and raped her.

After the rape, Griffith grabbed her tan pants, leaving her underwear on the hillside, and ran to the wash to find her tennis shoes. Ybarra followed, catching her, and again beat and kicked her until her unconscious or "lifeless" body was lying limply in the wash. Ybarra left the wash area to go to his truck parked about 45 feet away and got a can of white gas, went back to where Griffith was, doused her all over her body with the flammable fluid and lit her afire. Griffith was sitting or standing up part of the time that she was on fire. Ybarra thinks Griffith is dead and he leaves the scene of the crime.

Griffith walks and crawls approximately one mile towards Highway 50 where she is found alongside the 30 Mile Road at approximately 8:30 a.m. in a semi-conscious condition by two fishermen. They had spotted a broken mirror in the road, then a purse with its contents spilled onto the roadway. Tardy slips with the name of Nancy Griffith were found inside the purse. Shortly they saw scuff marks on the side of the rod and bare footprints. A short distance further, they spotted a naked figure about 10 feet off the road, leaning on one elbow, waving at them to try to attract their attention. Getting closer, they determined the figure was a "badly burnt" and severely injured girl.

The men tried to help her by lying her down on a rag from the back of the truck they were driving and covering her with their long sleeve shirts. Because they feared the person who had hurt her was still in the area, they both left to get help, as neither wanted to stay with her alone. After getting back to Highway 50, they were able to flag the second vehicle passing by, a small red pickup with a white camper shell.

The driver was Robert Ybarra Jr who told the fishermen he was new in the area and that he on his way to work on an oil rig out on 30 Mile Road when the men asked him to go to Ely to report the situation. He offered to stay with the girl while Hofhein and Danner returned to Ely to summon help. Ybarra later told the authorities he had driven the area three times but did not find the girl so he went on to his place of employment in Butte Valley.

Danner called the Sheriff's Office from Hansen's Texaco and was picked up by Sheriff's Captain Bernie Romero and they returned to the crime scene. They drove by the girl's location about a quarter of a mile before Danner realized they had gone too far. As they approached her location they saw her sitting up and waving at them to attract attention. The red pickup or its driver was not seen in the area.

While Romero covered the girl with a blanket and comforted her, Danner found what he first thought was a rubber glove lying in the road. Upon closer examination it was the entire skin from her hand with the fingernails still attached.

Captain Romero knew Nancy and her family, but because of the burns he was not able to recognize her. She was able to tell him that she had been raped the night before, that she did not know her assailant but said that "he works out there," and pointed to the north. Griffith told Romero the assailant drove a red Toyota truck and was by himself.

Nancy died several hours after she was found, on Saturday, September 29, 1979, at the University of Utah Medical Center Burn Unit in Salt Lake City, Utah at 9 p.m. She had had been flown from the William B. Ririe Hospital in critical condition to Utah for treatment for the severe burns she had suffered. Griffith had suffered severe burns over more than 75% of her body, her lungs were seared from inhaling fire, and she had sustained a fractured skull.

The Nancy Griffith Murder

Nancy Griffith Biography and poetry

Robert Ybarra Jr. Profile
The Arrest and Trial Delays Chronology

The Crime Details

The Trial Chronology

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