Convicted killer accused of murdering Scottsdale woman

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A convicted killer is back behind bars, once again accused of murder.

Police arrested Joseph Harris Wednesday evening in connection with the violent death of Janet Dobson.

A male acquaintance discovered the 50-year-old's body last Sunday morning. The Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office determined that Dobson died of blunt force trauma to the head.

There was some initial suspicion that Dobson's ex-boyfriend, who had just been arrested for violating a protection order taken out by Dobson, might have been involved. Anthony Osuch pleaded guilty to that charge and served a 24-hour jail sentence.

He was released Sunday morning, about four hours before Dobson's body was found. Police arrested Osuch a second time at her home Sunday afternoon, hours after Dobson's murder.

Although he twice violated the protection order against him, detectives interviewed him and eventually determined that Osuch was not their murder suspect.

Police said leads pointed them in the direction of Harris, who was identified as an acquaintance of Dobson's.

Officers took him into custody Tuesday morning so investigators could obtain physical evidence from him. He was then released while detectives processed evidence from Dobson's home.

"The Scottsdale Police Forensic Laboratory positively linked Joseph Harris to the crime scene and probable cause was developed for his arrest," according to the Scottsdale Police Department.

Officers arrested him at a friend's home in Mesa Wednesday night.

"Harris made no statement of guilt to detectives, however, witnesses have reported that he has admitted to involvement in the victim's death," according to the Scottsdale Police Department.

Investigators believe Harris took property from Dobson prior to her murder. They also believe a fight over money led to the deadly encounter.

Harris served time in prison for a 1995 murder. According to records from the Arizona Department of Corrections, he was admitted in August 2001 and released in May 2013. Those records show that he absconded in December 2011.

Related: Scottsdale police investigate 'suspicious' death