New details released in investigation of police sergeant's death

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by Natalie Rivers and Jared Dillingham

Bio | Email | Follow: @JaredDillingham

azfamily.com

Posted on May 6, 2011 at 4:17 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 4 at 3:46 PM

PHOENIX - The Phoenix Police Department is releasing new details about the investigation into the death of Sgt. Sean Drenth, but detectives still cannot rule it a murder or a suicide.

Drenth was found with a fatal gunshot wound in a parking lot at 17th Avenue and Jackson Street in downtown Phoenix late on the evening of Oct. 18.

Drenth's body was discovered by an Arizona Capitol Police unit just before 11 p.m.  Police now say he pulled his patrol car into the lot 24-minute before he was found.  They're not sure what led him there, but say his GPS and patrol car computer reveal he spent the prior two hours on routine calls.

Investigators still haven't determined definitively if Drenth shot himself with his own shotgun, which was found on top of his body, or if he was murdered.  One of his pistols was found nearby on the ground, and another had been thrown over a fence into a railyard.   Detectives say they found "significant evidence" that the scene was staged, but will not reveal details.

Police said they have information that someone other than the Capitol guard was inside the crime scene around the time of Drenth's death, but they have not yet identified that person.

"That's a huge part of it," said Lt. Joe Knott, "Finding that individual...and asking, 'Why were you there? What were you doing?"

DNA and fingerprinting evidence has only been useful in eliminating people as potential suspects.

Hundreds of pages of investigative documents lay out details of Drenth's actions in the days before he was found dead.

People close to Drenth say he was not acting suicidal, so they are puzzled by the events surrounding his death. They claim he would not have taken his own life.

Drenth, 35, was a 12-year veteran of the force. He is survived by his wife of 13 years and his mother.  Both listened to investigators brief reporters on the case, but did not wish to speak.

At Friday's press conference Lieutenant Joe Knott  said police may never know exactly what happened the evening of his death.

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