Jury convicts Chandler man in 'no body' homicide

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

CHANDLER, Ariz. -- Jurors on Wednesday found Bryan Stewart guilty of second-degree murder in the presumed death of Jamie Laiaddee, the Chandler woman who vanished March 17, 2010.

"Jamie literally dropped off the grid and that just doesn't happen," said Chandler Police Sergeant Joe Favazzo in September.

Even though Laiaddee's body has not been found, there's no crime scene and no weapon was ever recovered, Chandler investigators went ahead took their case to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

“This is the first time we've done that here in Chandler," Favazzo said.

According to court paperwork, Stewart confessed to killing Laiaddee, even going so far as to say “the cops won’t find her body.”

The first time police talked to Stewart about Laiaddee, he reportedly told detectives they had just broken up and that Laiaddee had said she was going to move to Denver for a new job. That was in late May 2010. At that time, Laiaddee had not been seen or heard from in about 10 weeks.

Police named Stewart, who was living with Laiaddee at the time of her disappearance, a person of interest in the case in early June 2010. He was driving Laiaddee's car when officers located him.

Police said Stewart gave them false information about his identity. They also said he used credit cards and bank accounts belonging to Laiaddee for several weeks after she vanished.

Stewart was taken into custody and charged with forgery, identity theft and weapons misconduct. He was convicted on those charges over the summer.

Stewart, who also goes by the name Rick Valentini, was officially charged with second-degree murder in Laiaddee's presumed death in March 2011, more than a year after the 32-year-old disappeared.

Jurors deliberated only a short time before reaching their verdict Wednesday afternoon.

In addition to second-degree murder, the jury also found Stewart guilty of fraudulent schemes.

Stewart will be sentenced on Dec. 22.

The minimum sentence for second-degree murder in Arizona is 10 years in prison.