Tennis coach remembers Fountain Hills woman who played tennis with killing spree suspect

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Tennis coach Scott Wightman would teach tennis to Mary Simmons, who played with Dwight Jones, the killing spree suspect. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Tennis coach Scott Wightman would teach tennis to Mary Simmons, who played with Dwight Jones, the killing spree suspect. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Wightman said he first found out about Simmons' death from her tennis team, a group of women he had been coaching for years. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Wightman said he first found out about Simmons' death from her tennis team, a group of women he had been coaching for years. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
While Wightman is still working through painful emotions asking why this would happen to somebody so kind, he knows she's full of life in heaven. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) While Wightman is still working through painful emotions asking why this would happen to somebody so kind, he knows she's full of life in heaven. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
FOUNTAIN HILLS, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Mary Simmons may have been 70 years old, but to tennis coach Scott Wightman, age was just a number.

“She was 70 going on 35. You would never know. I wanted to be like her when I’m 70 years old and being able to compete like that,” said Wightman. “She put her heart in everything she did. She was a class act.”

[READ MORE: Fountain Hills couple killed in shooting spree were friends with shooter]

Simmons and her boyfriend Bryon Thomas were the last victims in Dwight Jones' killing rampage, shot to death in their Fountain Hills home Saturday, according to police. And for days, investigators hadn't been able to find a connection between Jones and the couple, until Wednesday, when they announced Jones had played tennis with Simmons at local parks for the last four to five years.

[RELATED: PD: ‘We knew he was our suspect and murderer’]

“Right now that's basically the only connection we have for them. A lot of this doesn’t make sense,” said Ofc. Kevin Watts, with the Scottsdale Police Department.

Wightman said he first found out about Simmons' death from her tennis team, a group of women he had been coaching for years.

“They said, ‘That’s our Mary.’ And I said, 'You’ve got to be kidding.' And my gut dropped,” said Wightman.  

[TIMELINE: 72-hour killing spree | MAP: Crime scenes]

Wightman said when he learned Jones was the suspect, he was shocked.

“I have never heard that name before. No,” said Wightman.

[CONTINUING COVERAGE: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Fountain Hills killing spree]

While he's still working through painful emotions asking why this would happen to somebody so kind, he knows she's full of life in heaven.

“I’m sure they’re waiting in line up there to be able to play with Mary,” said Wightman.

[RELATED: Burglars hit home of murdered Fountain Hills couple]

He said he may have been her coach, but it was Simmons who taught him how to live with unwavering gratitude and love.

“Thanks for letting me into your world. And thanks for letting me feel like part of your family,” said Wightman.  

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Briana WhitneyBriana Whitney joined CBS 5/3TV in February 2018, and is no stranger to the sunshine and heat!

Click to learn more about Briana.

Briana Whitney

She’s from Northern California, but prior to coming to Phoenix, she reported at KIII-TV in Corpus Christi, TX for three years.

During her time in South Texas, she reported on several national stories. Some of the most memorable were the 2015 Wimberley floods, reporting for eight hours off the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Harvey in August of 2017, and reporting from the church shooting in Sutherland Springs in November of 2017.

Her general assignment reporting won her two Associated Press awards, six EMMA awards, and one Emmy nomination for a half-hour special she wrote, produced and hosted on the issue of child pornography.

Briana graduated with a degree in broadcast journalism from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and during college had seven different internships at several news stations.

When she isn’t chasing breaking news or working on a feature story, Briana loves checking out the best restaurants in the Valley, and hiking or rollerblading around town. Briana is very happy to have made Arizona home!

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