CHANDLER, Ariz. – Chandler police have arrested two suspects in the 2008 shooting death of an Arizona State University student whose body was found in his burning home.
Rory Gene Coriell, 29, and William Hayden Crawford, 27, were booked into the Maricopa County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder. Each man's bond was set at $1 million.
Firefighters found Zachary Rowe's body in his burning home near Ray and Alma School roads on Dec. 23, 2008. An autopsy determined the 25-year-old died from a gunshot wound to the head prior to the fire.
A lab analysis confirmed the presence of flammable liquids and investigators said the fire was intentionally set.
According to Maricopa County Superior Court documents, police found a large amount of illegal drugs, drug paraphernalia and weapons in Rowe's home. The sliding glass door in the back of the house was broken.
"It seems to be that the motive may have been a drug rip in this case," said Chandler police Detective Seth Tyler.
Rowe was apparently selling illegal drugs out of his Chandler home and police said the killers were after those drugs.
"Irregardless of what Mr. Rowe may have or may not have been involved in he was still murdered and it's our job to bring his murderers to justice," Tyler said.
The suspects reportedly went to Rowe's house with the intention of committing a burglary, according to court records. As they approached the back door, Rowe's dog alerted to their presence and Rowe shot at them. One of the suspects fired back, striking Rowe.
The suspects fled, but police believe they returned to retrieve potential evidence then started the fire to hide the crime.
Police said the suspects threatened several witnesses to stay quiet about the crime.
The suspects were arrested in Phoenix by members of the department's Criminal Apprehension Unit and the U.S. Marshal's Office.
Department of Corrections records indicate Coriell was released from prison last March after serving sentences on marijuana and weapons charges. He previously served time in Pinal County for armed robbery. Crawford was released from prison in November after serving time on a drug conviction.
The investigation is ongoing.