Couple finds body in home; Man forces them to bury it

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Couple forced to bury body

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PHOENIX - A Phoenix couple came home to find a dead man in their kitchen and then the suspect ordered them to bury the body.

Phoenix Police are reporting that 34-year-old Steven Barger killed a man inside the home of Kristi Peace, where she lives with her boyfriend, and then forced the couple to bury the victim in their front yard.

Police actually caught them in the process and now the accused murderer is behind bars.

"They covered up the hole but it was right there," says Peace, as she points to the grave her boyfriend was forced to dig.

She says the victim was a 33-year-old man that she did not know.

A cross now marks his grave in her front yard.

"When I came home Friday afternoon from work," says Peace, "he was sitting there in front of the kitchen sink on the floor dead."

Investigators say Steven Barger killed him.

Peace says Barger was an acquaintance staying in her home.

But when she and her boyfriend arrived home Friday to find a man shot in the head, Peace says Barger threatened her boyfriend.

"He basically said either you clean up the mess or I will bring in people who will deal with you and clean up the mess for us," she says, "so he basically had no choice to do what he did."

She says her boyfriend buried the man while Barger watched.

"It was awful," says Peace as she looks down at the grave. "I mean even now just knowing that he was there."

Afraid for her own life, Peace finally went to the police two days later.

Sergeant Tommy Thompson explains, "The officer went to that area and at that time, they found a gentleman who was in the process of digging up that body. The officers discovered that there was a partially unearthed body."

Investigators say Barger was forcing the boyfriend to dig the victim back up in order to move him when police arrested him and charged him with murder.

Now, Peace says the victim can finally rest in peace.

"He didn't deserve to be buried like that," she says, "You know, he's a person."