Teen arrested in murder of MCSO detention officer

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PHOENIX -- A 15-year-old has been arrested in the murder of a Maricopa County Sheriff's Office detention officer.

During a news conference Wednesday afternoon, the Phoenix Police Department announced that Leonard Moreno, his mother and a 20-year-old man have been arrested in connection with the death of Jorge Vargas, 27. However, police said Moreno acted alone.

"Today, I'm comforted by the fact that we have made an arrest after literally hundreds of hours of investigation," said Phoenix police Chief Daniel Garcia.

Moreno will be charged as an adult.

Police said Moreno's mother, Cathy Seymour, will be charged with hindering prosecution. Ivan Montes, 20, was booked for hindering prosecution and disorderly conduct.

Moreno's criminal history dates back to 2007, according to Juvenile Court records.   The documents say Moreno burglarized and vandalized an elementary school in Glendale when he was only nine years old.

In 2011, Moreno faced assault, disorderly conduct, and drug charges.  He was put in juvenile detention, and through probation and rehab programs.

Several other people are being questioned in connection with the case and more arrests are possible.

Vargas was shot and killed in the driveway of his home near 91st Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road early in the morning of Aug. 8. He was working on his truck, getting ready to go to work.

Police released a sketch of the suspect the next day. The description came from a witness who saw a Hispanic male running from the scene. That sketch was featured on billboards throughout the Valley.

Police said they believe the shooting was likely a random incident. Sgt. Trent Crump said Moreno was high, drunk and armed when he left a party and headed home. Vargas' home was between the party and Moreno's residence.

"Leonard Moreno wanted to be a gang member. Leonard Moreno is a drug user … and he acquired a weapon," Garcia said. "These three categories put together on Aug. 8 resulted in the tragic senseless death of Jorge Vargas."

Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Moreno has been in jail for unrelated offenses for the past two or three weeks.

Vargas had been with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office for eight years. He is survived by his wife and his young son.

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