Woman arrested after mother found dead, dismembered in Phoenix home

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by Jennifer Thomas and Carina Sonn

Video report by Carina Sonn

Posted on July 30, 2012 at 1:59 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 31 at 8:54 AM

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PHOENIX -- Phoenix police arrested a woman in connection with the murder of her 73-year-old mother.

Carol Hatley, 42, has been booked on one count of second-degree murder.

Police responded to a call of a deceased person at a home near Cactus Road and 47th Avenue at about 3:30 a.m. Monday.

That call came from the women's neighbor after Hatley went next door for help.

"She said, 'My mom has passed away. She's died and I need some help,'" said Regina Martin, who got the early morning knock on her door. Martin called 911 while Hatley waited outside.

"She was calm," Martin said. "I had no indication when I called the 911 operator that this had happened. ... I was under the impression she had died from cancer -- she had cancer."

Officers found Deborah Hatley in her home with obvious trauma to her body. Police spokesman Sgt. Trent Crump said Hatley was in the process of being dismembered.

Officers found large garbage bags in the area that they believe the suspect was planning to use to get rid of the victim's body.

Crump said Hatley provided a statement regarding the circumstances that preceded the death of her mother and was arrested. Court paperwork indicates that what Hatley told officers did not mesh with what they were seeing at the scene or the time line provided by Martin.

Police said the mother and daughter lived together in the home and they had a very tumultuous relationship. There is a history of domestic incidents between the two. There is also a history of alcohol and prescription drug abuse, but the mother was in relatively good health.

According to Martin, Hatley smelled of alcohol.

"She was drunk," she said. "I could smell the alcohol on her; she was kind of waving and wandering."

Martin said, unaware of what police would eventually find, she walked the suspect home so she wouldn't fall.

"Right before I brought her home she said, 'Oh it was bloody.' I said, 'What was bloody?' She said, 'It was bloody.' And I just walked her home and sat her down at her table," Martin said, explaining that she went home shortly after that. Martin said she didn't go farther into the home and didn't see any blood or anything she noticed was suspicious.

Detectives are still investigating but may have a clue as to motive.

"We know that the last conversation that was being had between the mother and daughter in this case and at least one other family member was about taking away her driving privileges," Crump said. "We don't know if that had anything to do with this particular case."

According to court paperwork, Hatley did not confess to killing her mother, but she did admit to "wrapping the victim in plastic bags and claimed she was going to take her to the hospital."

In addition, Hatley admitted to handling weapons she said were left at the scene.

"The defendant throughout the interview gave inconsistent statement and was clearly deceptive to investigators," according to court documents. "The defendant was extremely passive and did not express concern."

A judge set bail at $1 million.

A status conference is scheduled for Aug. 6, followed by a preliminary hearing on Aug. 9.

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