Police identify suspect in shooting death of Mesa mom

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

MESA, Ariz. -- Police have identified the man they arrested for allegedly shooting and killing a young Mesa mother and wounding an older man in the course of burglary.

It happened just before 10 p.m. Tuesday at a home in the area of Country Club Drive and Guadalupe Road.

Sgt. Ed Wessing of the Mesa Police Department said one suspect was taken into custody quickly, but another remains on the loose.

The suspect in custody has been identified as Wesley Wailes.

The victims are Marialuisa Alvarez, 24, and Jerry Patty, 69. Patty is the homeowner, but Alvarez lived in the house with him and his wife, as well as her boyfriend, Patty's grandson, and their 3-year-old child.

Patty is the one who called 911 after the shooting.

According to Wessing, Wailes knows Alvarez's boyfriend, whose name has not been released.

"Wailes admitted he planned the burglary because he knew Alvarez's boyfriend would not be home," Wessing explained in a news release. "Wailes said he did not intend to kill anyone."

Wessing said investigators knew from the beginning that this was not a random incident.

"We don't believe this was random," he said early Wednesday morning, just hours after the shooting. "We don't believe that there's a concern to the community that we do have random acts of violence that are occurring."

Investigators believe Wailes and another man, both wearing masks, got into the Patty home through an unlocked sliding glass door in the back. Their apparent intention was to burglarize the place.

Patty discovered the intruder when he heard Alvarez yelling at somebody, Wessing said.

Wailes said Alvarez caught his accomplice trying to take her purse. Hearing the commotion, Patty confronted Wailes.

One shot was fired during that confrontation. The bullet grazed Patty's abdomen and elbow before hitting Alvarez squarely in the upper torso. Police believe she had been standing behind Patty. Alvarez was pronounced dead at the scene.

Patty's wife and Alvarez's young child were in the home at the time. Neither one of them was hurt although Patty's wife told police she saw the masked men in the house.

Wailes' accomplice, who has not been identified, fled the home just before the shooting.

Wessing said several Mesa police officers arrived on the scene within a minute of the first 911 call.

"We basically shut down a square-mile area," Wessing explained. "One of our K-9 officers was actually following a trail."

The dog tracked Wailes to a backyard about a mile from the scene. Wessing said he did not comply with the officer's order to come out. The police dog was sent in and bit Wailes, who had been hiding in a container.

"Within the same container, officers located a semi-automatic pistol," Wessing said.

Once Wailes had been treated for his injuries, he was booked on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, aggravated assault, misconduct involving weapons and endangerment.

According to Wessing, Wailes said he tried to run like his accomplice had, but Patty was blocking his path. That was why he fired his gun.

"He said his intent was to scare Jerry Patty," Wessing said.

Wailes' accomplice is still on the loose.