Exclusive: Cousin of slain teen from NJ breaks silence as Gilgo probe expands to Las Vegas
Next week marks 20 years since the body of a teenage mother from New Jersey was found off a Las Vegas highway.
The cousin of Victoria Camara spoke publicly today for the first time since her murder in an exclusive interview with News 12 senior reporter Tara Rosenblum.
MORE: EXCLUSIVE - Law enforcement sources say 3 Las Vegas cases have 'similar circumstances' as Gilgo
"She just was thrown like a piece of trash in the desert," said Kaila Donaldson. "It's terrible. It's kind of like when you first hear it, it's unbelievable. It feels like a Lifetime movie."
Donaldson, her first cousin and childhood best friend, remembers her as a beautiful and artistic person who was like a big sister.
"She was a beautiful person, very artistic, she loved makeup, she loved building things," says Donaldson. "We used to play with Legos all the time, but she was just the person that I can go and talk to you about anything. My confidant as a child."
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Donaldson says her cousin often spent months living at her Bergen County home to escape a life of trauma - Camara's dad was out of the picture and Camara's mom was in the throes of drug addiction.
"She didn't have any stable environment from day one," says Donaldson. "But outside of that she was a super sensitive, humble, generous, just as very sweet soul."
Donaldson says Camara turned to prostitution after becoming a single teenage mom and struggled to feed herself and infant child. "She just did what she had to do to survive, and unfortunately that's what she was doing," says Donaldson.
Donaldson told Rosenblum that she feels as though that is the reason Camara's case was cast aside, with little interest from the media and law enforcement.
"It's usually the same runaround of information as soon as you bring up yes, she's doing sex work. It's like well, let us put her to the bottom of the list, you know?" says Donaldson.
Suspected Gilgo Beach murder Rex Heuermann has ties to the Las Vegas metropolitan area and owns a timeshare a few miles off the Vegas strip. Police in Las Vegas confirmed to the Turn to Tara team that they are reviewing unsolved cases for any potential connection to Heuermann - cases like the long dormant investigation into Camara's murder.
"She was a good human being, and she deserves that so. We have family members who don't have any answers. She has a daughter - she just wants answers you know. And she doesn't deserve any less than anybody else," says Donaldson.
Donaldson noted similar circumstances between her cousin's killing and the deaths of the Gilgo Four - all young sex workers dumped in deserted areas outside major metropolitan cities where Heuermann owned properties.
"They're all beautiful young women," says Donaldson. "They were the same demographic, and you know, same age…So if its connected, great - we can move forward with answers."
MORE: 'All the facts seem to fit.' LI attorney sees connections between Gilgo murders and Atlantic City cold cases
Donaldson is hopeful Camara's long unsolved case will get exposure now, even if it turns out to not be connected to Heuermann.
"So that way, her spirit can rest easy and, you know, I wouldn't want anybody to just forget about me if I had died without a reason," says Donaldson. "So, I think that it's the honorable thing to do to at least get some answers for her."