Josh Dufort left his home in Michigan for the bright lights of Las Vegas to pursue his dream of becoming an actor. But his life would be cut short in a violent attack, a murder that remains unsolved.
He tied his running shoes, put in his ear buds and went jogging on the trail. But he wasn't alone. From out of nowhere evil emerged from the desert shadows.
Beaten and strangled, his body was dumped by the side of the road. Was Josh Dufort the victim of a random attack? Or was Josh worth more dead than alive?
Joshua Allen Dufort grew up in the small town of Dansville, Michigan. He packed up and left for the bright lights of Las Vegas to become an actor.
Josh met his close friend Nikolaos Gaitanos in acting class.
"Josh was a really, really great and passionate guy. He was always there for his friends," said Gaitanos.
The girl who worked at the local bakery was smitten with Josh. So much so that Shannon Lutz fell in love and moved in with Josh.
"We were very quickly, completely inseparable, our lives fused together. I moved out of the house, moved in with him and we were together 24/7," said Shannon. "The most gregarious, sweetest, caring, sarcastic, lightest person in the room. He walked in and everybody was immediately drawn to him, he was a magnet.
"There was not a person who didn't love him, want to be with him, or want to be him," said Shannon.
But there was something else that ignited josh's passions: Boxing.
Josh became fast friends with a lightweight champion named Don Juan Futrell.
"Josh was young and naïve, but hungry for any opportunity in town. He came in and was sort of a helpful wing for Josh, and was seemingly a really great influence," Shannon said. "From what Josh thought of him, he saw someone who was like a big brother and was trying to help him. It would never pan out. They would be supposed to have lunch, supposed to work out together, supposed to have a little meeting, talk about their goals, and Don Juan would cancel on him."
One of those goals, Shannon says, was to make bank selling T-shirts on the Vegas Strip.
"They just one day had an idea of putting clever or cool-looking designs on T-shirts," said Shannon. "Don Juan said 'OK, come over, jog over, we're going to work out and then we're going to talk about this T-shirt business,' and they never got to speak about it."
So that business never got off the ground.
"I don't think that the T-shirt business -- Josh thought it was going to be an actual thing," said Shannon. "But I think it was just Don Juan preying on Josh wanting to do everything he could, and coming up with a reason to get him over there, to guarantee that he would come over."
Josh's acting coach Sharry Flaherty worried about her star pupil climbing into the ring and taking punches.
"I got kind of confused about it, and I said 'Josh, I thought you wanted to be an actor -- you're going to end up hurting your face, I mean, you think about those things?' 'Cause we had booked him several commercials already at that time and he mentions that 'I just have to last three rounds, I can make an extra thousand bucks, and I need the money.'"
Sharry says one day when she was complaining about the high cost of health insurance, Josh surprised her with a zinger.
"He nonchalantly says 'Yeah, I have health insurance now and I don't have to pay for it,' and I go 'Health insurance?' And he proceeded to tell me that -- he called him 'DJ' -- 'DJ got me health insurance,' and I looked at him and I go 'What?' And I said 'Don Juan got you health insurance?' He goes 'Yeah.' I go, 'What?'"
Health insurance for a healthy 23-year-old athletic guy?
"That raised, you know, suspicions to me, like, 'Huh?'" said Sharry.
Suspicions were raised even further one warm November evening in 2010. Girlfriend Shannon Lutz says Josh Dufort told her he was going to jog over to Don Juan's house, nestled in a gated community on a golf course.
Shannon says on the way to Don Juan's, Josh left Don Juan a terrifying voicemail.
"There's three messages from Josh. And he said 'These guys are here, I don't know what to do, I don't know how to get into the gate, they're following me,'" said Shannon. "He's on the corner of Eastern and Pecos Ridge, and that he's just frantic. And he's like 'You need to come get me right now, these guys are following me,' and he repeats it several times and the phone cuts out."
Who were they?
Henderson, Nevada Police say Josh was attacked. His lifeless body was discovered at sunrise the next morning.
As detectives retrace Josh's last steps and talk to his friends, the trail leads them in a direction no one saw coming.
As investigators dug deep into the mysterious death of Josh Dufort, they made some eyebrow-raising discoveries, such as someone had taken out two life insurance policies on Josh just before he was murdered.
Josh Dufort was beaten, strangled, murdered, his body dumped beside a road in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, Nevada.
The motive could be money -- a lot of it. Apparently Josh was well-insured. There were two life insurance policies worth a whopping $1.75 million.
And who was the beneficiary? His mentor and friend, boxer Don Juan Futrell.
But wait a minute. Didn't Josh allegedly tell his acting coach Sharry Flaherty that Don Juan paid for health insurance, not life insurance? Did Josh know that there was a life insurance policy taken out on him?
"No. My understanding from Josh and I's conversations is that Don Juan was helping him get health insurance because he didn't have any," said Josh's girlfriend Shannon Lutz.
The day after Josh's body was found on that busy road, cops searched Don Juan's house. In the search warrant it says they seized "miscellaneous life insurance paperwork."
Back during the initial investigation, Henderson Police said Don Juan was in their sights.
"Don Juan Futrell is still considered our prime suspect in this open case," said Henderson Police Spokeswoman Kathleen Richards.
The two insurance companies denied Don Juan's claim for the payout. One company took him to federal court, and he counter-sued.
And you won't believe what was revealed in court papers.
"Also on the application there is a bizarre twist: Josh Dufort and Don Juan are listed as domestic partners, but neither one was in a relationship with the other one, aside from a friendship," said legal correspondent Amy Dash.
In the deposition an attorney asked Don Juan to explain: "If I say the words 'domestic partner,' what does that mean to you?
"'Domestic partner' mean like married or something. I don't know," Futrell is quoted saying in the deposition.
"Do you think domestic partners could be gay or straight?"
"I think if you live together it's domestic," Futrell says in the deposition.
And whoever filled out the application claimed that josh made $180,000 selling T-shirts for the company that he and Don Juan co-owned.
"Josh didn't have any money, and I hung out with him a lot," said Josh's friend Nikolas Gaitanos.
"I believe in the year of 2010 he'd made a total of $16,000 for his entire salary for the year," said Shannon. "We pinched pennies like crazy."
And now this story about two boxers takes a wild left hook.
It may be Josh Dufort's signature on the policy, but the voice on a mysterious audio interview with the insurance company apparently doesn't sound like Josh. So if it's not Josh, who is it? Believe it or not, Don Juan says it sounds like his own brother.
Crime Watch Daily wants to talk to Don Juan but he lives in a gated community and we couldn't get to him, and he declined to talk. We called Don Juan a second time to ask him to sit down for an interview. But he hung up again.
Even though court documents show Don Juan's brother allegedly was an imposter posing as Josh, cops have never charged Don Juan in connection with the killing.
Our legal expert Amy Dash explains why that may be.
"Proving that someone submitted or played a role in a fake insurance application doesn't amount to charging someone with murder," said Amy Dash. "So in order to arrest somebody and charge them with murder, you really need direct evidence connecting that person to the crime that was committed. So either that means that the police do not have sufficient evidence to connect Don Juan Futrell to Josh Dufort's murder, or it means that that evidence just doesn't exist."
In November it will be seven years since Josh Dufort's untimely death.