Cave Creek man gets 23 years for woman's murder

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX -- A Cave Creek man was sentenced to 23 years in prison for murdering a woman and setting her home on fire three years ago.

In February, Justin Wade Lunsford, 29, pleaded no contest to second-degree murder and one count of arson of an occupied structure.

Authorities said Lunsford met Mary Polgar at a bar in Cave Creek on July 7, 2008, then they left to go buy drugs and beer. Afterward, they went to the Cave Creek home where Polgar was renting a room.

The next afternoon, Polgar's truck was intentionally set on fire at a nearby intersection. Later that evening, firefighters responded to a fire at Polgar's home and discovered her body in the master bedroom under several layers of blankets and sheets.

She had been stabbed more than 50 times.

Arson investigators determined that an accelerant was used to start the fire in the kitchen area.

Investigators said Lunsford's vehicle matched the description of the one spotted leaving the scene of the truck fire. A gas can was found inside his vehicle.

Lunsford was arrested six days after the murder.

Judge Janet Barton sentenced Lunsford to 18 years in prison for murder and five years in prison for arson. The counts will run consecutively.