Man facing murder charges after human remains found in Phoenix yard

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Alan Matthew Champagne By Andrew Michalscheck Alan Matthew Champagne By Andrew Michalscheck
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- A Valley man is facing murder charges in connection with the discovery of two bodies in a Phoenix yard earlier this week.

Police said Alan Matthew Champagne, 42, was rebooked into the Maricopa County Jail Wednesday on two counts of first-degree murder.

In October 2011, police learned that a double homicide had occurred earlier that year in an apartment in the area of 3400 N. 12th Place.

Detectives went to the apartment complex and discovered it had undergone extensive renovation. They still treated the apartment as a homicide scene and were able to recover biological evidence.

While investigating the homicide, authorities received information that identified Champagne as a likely suspect in the case. Police believed he had killed a man and a woman who he had gotten into an argument with.

In March 2012, police located Champagne at his mother’s home near 3800 N. 14th Place while investigating the double homicide case and an unrelated aggravated assault case in which Champagne was a suspect.

Champagne got into a standoff with police at his mother’s home and fired several shots at police before being taken into custody. He was then booked into jail on several counts of attempted first-degree murder.

On Tuesday, police were called back out to Champagne’s mother’s home after the new owners found two bodies in their backyard.

The homeowners told police they were having some landscaping done when the workers found a wooden box buried in the yard.

Inside the box were the remains of a man and a woman.

The bodies were taken to the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office for autopsies.

Champagne, who was still in jail, was interviewed by police about the bodies on Wednesday.

He chose not to speak with investigators, but police said there was enough probable cause to charge Champagne with two counts of first-degree murder.

3TV spoke to the manager of the apartment complex where police believe the murder occurred. She declined to be identified but remembered the investigation.

[Detectives] went through the entire apartment. We let them even go through all the lockers,” she said.

She also remembered renting a unit to Champagne for a brief period around that same time.

He admitted to serving time in prison. Records show he served about 14 years for a second-degree murder conviction in 1992.

“He honestly told me he was trying to start a new life,” said the property manager.

3TV obtained court records stemming from the older case, which read in part, "Mr. Champagne's juvenile and adult files reflect that he has been involved with weapons, intoxicants, and the involvement in the justice system since the age of fifteen."

Champagne currently faces dozens of felony charges in connection with last year's standoff, in addition to the new charges.

Police have not released the identities of the bodies found on Tuesday, but believe they have an idea of who the victims may be.  

"I think anytime you have a missing person, there's always a concern by loved ones, friends, family members, what happened to my loved one," said Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson. "Obviously it’s a sad closure, but I think it does bring some closure."

Autopsies are scheduled for Thursday, according to the Medical Examiner's Office.