Woman found dead behind counter of Mesa smoke shop


by Catherine Holland

Video report by Ryan O'Donnell

Posted on June 18, 2012 at 7:02 AM

Updated Monday, Jun 18 at 9:57 AM

Map: Greenfield Road & Main Street

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MESA, Ariz. -- Police are trying to figure out who killed a woman inside a Mesa smoke shop over the weekend.

A customer found the woman's body behind the counter of Cigarettes 4 Less near Greenfield Road and Main Street at about 7:40 p.m. Sunday. The man immediately called 911.

Officers arrived on the scene within minutes and confirmed that the woman was dead. It's not known exactly how long she had been there when the customer found her.

While they have few details at this point, detectives believe this might have been a robbery that took a violent turn. Mesa Police Sgt. Tony Ladato said there was trauma to the woman's body, but declined to elaborate.

The woman has not been officially identified, but a frequent customer who stopped by Monday morning told 3TV he believes she had owned the shop for several years.

Gene Zeiner said the victim had been having trouble with shoplifting lately and had taken to asking people to remove their hats and sunglasses when they walked in. She even posted a sign that reads, "All customers must take off hat befor [sic] you enter store if not I will make you leave," on the door.

While a sign on the window warns that there is a video surveillance system in the store, police are not sure if there are actually cameras inside.

Zeiner told 3TV's Ryan O'Donnell she had posted pictures of three people on the shop's door, asking for information about them.

"She was going to have them arrested," Zeiner said. "I know she must have a video camera in there. ... I had my worries about what was going on in there."

Police do not have anybody in custody nor have they released any suspect information.