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Customer runs over and kills Las Vegas salon worker Annie Nguyen after failing to pay for US$35 manicure

  • Manicurist tried to stop woman from driving off in car after she failed to pay
  • Police were investigating the crime as a murder
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 January, 2019, 2:46pm
UPDATED : Friday, 04 January, 2019, 8:26am

The nail salon owner’s work was her life, so when a customer tried to flee without paying for her US$35 manicure, Nhu “Annie” Ngoc Quynh Nguyen tried to fight back.

Now, authorities in Las Vegas are investigating Nguyen’s death.

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Nguyen, 51, a Vietnamese refugee who raised her daughters in the United States, was killed December 29 outside her nail salon near the Las Vegas strip when she tried to stop the fleeing customer, Metropolitan police said.

The customer, a woman who has not yet been identified and remains at large, hit Nguyen with a stolen rental car and drove away, authorities said.

Nguyen died of blunt force injuries, the Clark County coroner’s office told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

Her death was ruled a homicide.

The altercation unfolded Saturday, after the suspect sat for a US$35 manicure at Nguyen’s salon, Crystal Nails and Spa.

Nguyen co-managed the business with her long-time partner, Sonny Chung.

The female customer tried to pay with a credit card, Chung told the Review-Journal, but the card was declined multiple times.

The woman told Nguyen she would retrieve money from her car, Chung said. The couple followed the woman outside, approached the car and tried to get the driver’s attention.

Police said the driver hit Nguyen and dragged her before fleeing the car park. Witnesses told Fox 5 Vegas that the altercation was over within seconds.

“I tried to hold the car back, but I’m not Superman,” Chung told the Review-Journal.

“She ran off for $35 and killed my wife – $35 to run my wife over.”

A fundraising page created by family to help defray funeral costs describes Nguyen as an “extremely hard working” woman and “dutiful mother who always put her children first”.

Her job took her across the United States, the page said, and Nguyen often worked 12 hour days, seven days a week so she could pay for her daughters to attend college.

Nguyen also helped financially support her mother, siblings and grandchildren.

“Allowing them to have a greater opportunity in life, she worked endlessly,” the page description says. Nguyen would skip meals so her family “would not have to work as hard as she did”.

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Family told Fox 5 Vegas that Nguyen had lived around the country, in Florida, California, Michigan and Arizona, before settling in Las Vegas two years ago.

She had been in a relationship with Chung for nearly 13 years, he told the Review-Journal. Nguyen had three daughters – all in their 20s – and two young grandchildren, Chung said.

They live in California but were in town for the holidays.

Metropolitan Police Department Lieutenant Ray Spencer told the newspaper that the rental car, a black Chevrolet Camaro, was reported stolen about three weeks ago.

Hours after the salon altercation, authorities found the unoccupied vehicle at a nearby block of flats.

“We do not believe the person who originally rented the car is the suspect,” Spencer told the Review-Journal.

Outside the salon, a makeshift memorial had been set up. One of Nguyen’s granddaughters had written a message on notebook paper covered with hearts: “We Love You Grandma”.

And on the door of the salon that is usually open 12 hours a day, seven days a week, a sign read: “Sorry, we will be closed until further notice. Thank you and Happy New Years.”

Police are investigating Nguyen’s death, and they said Wednesday that there was no additional information on the case.