FLORENCE, Ariz. -- One of two young men convicted in a notorious 2007 murder in Queen Creek has reportedly killed himself in prison.
Todd Hoke, now 22, was just 16 when he was arrested in 2007 for the brutal killing of 17-year-old Amber Hess. Nicolas Castillo, then 16, was also arrested in the murder. Hess had been beaten and stabbed to death, and her body was found burned and dumped in the desert.
The motive in the murder remained unclear. Hoke had previously said he killed Amber because “he didn’t like her” but Amber was, at one point, pregnant with his child.
Because Amber’s body was burned, it was unclear if she was still pregnant at the time of the murder or if she had possibly had a miscarriage just before.
In 2010, Hoke was sentenced to life in prison for first degree murder. Castillo was sentenced to 24 years behind bars.
Todd Hoke is at least the ninth inmate to die in DOC custody just this year. An investigation into his death will be led by the Department's Criminal Investigation Unit, in consultation with the county medical examiner's office.
On Monday, the mother of victim Amber Hess released a statement about Hoke's apparent suicide. Candy Hess said: "My heart goes out to his family. I know how hard it is to lose a child, whatever the reason. I'm sorry they have to go through that. We would have rather he served out his days in prison so he could think about what he did."