Stalking suspect arrest connected to Arias news coverage

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by Jared Dillingham

Bio | Email | Follow: @JaredDillingham

azfamily.com

Posted on July 22, 2013 at 5:06 PM

Updated Thursday, Jul 25 at 1:56 PM

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PHOENIX -- A New York man has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of stalking and computer tampering in connection with the news coverage of the Jodi Arias trial, according to Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

David Lee Simpson, 48, is accused of threatening to kill two nationally known TV anchor women who were covering the Arias trial for CNN. Nancy Grace and Jane Velez-Mitchell were in Phoenix for several months covering the trial for CNN.

MCSO got involved in the case because the anchors were in Phoenix when the alleged violent and graphic threats were made on Twitter by Simpson and because Simpson also allegedly threatened another woman locally, as well.

The investigation surrounding Simpson began in June. Simpson apparently became infuriated by the way the two female anchors covered the Arias trial.

Among Simpson's many tweets pertaining to the Arias trial, according to Arpaio, were threats to strap the commentators to a "tree naked and leave them to suffer all night" and then "slit their throats."

Simpson also allegedly told a co-worker that he wanted to hang Grace by her feet and "gut her like a deer.” Simpson openly named and called out his intended victims which also included a Phoenix woman who defended the commentator’s coverage of the trial on Twitter.

Arpaio said it was all due to the suspect's infatuation and obsession with Arias, now a convicted murderer.

"He really liked this Jodi Arias," Arpaio said. "Started making the threats against the people reporting this case."

According to sheriff’s detectives, Simpson quit his job last week as a front desk employee in an auto repair shop in Bath, N.Y., allegedly telling his employers that he was leaving town.

Simpson was arrested while he was in car. Officials found guns, shotgun ammunition, knives, handcuffs and zip-ties in the car and have seized the items as evidence in the case against Simpson.

Detectives also found a receipt to a recently purchased shotgun. The shotgun has not been located.

Also found in the car were newspaper clippings related to the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, and the shootings of four firemen in Webster, N.Y., who were responding to a fire call.

Detectives also discovered, in the suspect's car, a printout from a local Arizona news website about the story of a woman arrested by Maricopa County sheriff’s deputies on charges of bestiality.

“Threats against anyone have to be taken seriously,” Arpaio said. “Media personalities are frequent targets and because of their high visibility, they are particularly vulnerable. A few in the past have been stalked and murdered."

“This suspect was on his way south with enough weapons in his car to do serious harm to someone," explained Arpaio. "Fortunately, we acted quickly and in so doing, were able to stop him before anything could transpire.”

Simpson was arrested in Bath, N.Y., by local police and detectives from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. Simpson waived extradition and will be brought to the Maricopa County Jail on Wednesday afternoon.

Arpaio said Simpson is charged with 3 counts of computer tampering, class 5 felonies, and 2 counts of stalking, class 3 felonies.

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