Tucson man accused of killing, dismembering man over money dispute, police say

A Tucson man is accused of kidnapping another man who owed him money and killing him.
Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 11:47 AM MST|Updated: Sep. 22, 2022 at 11:53 AM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A man faces kidnapping and first-degree murder charges after police accuse him of kidnapping a man from Phoenix over a money dispute, strangling him to death off Interstate 10, and trying to dismember his body in Tucson. According to court documents, the victim’s girlfriend dropped him off at his apartment near 39th Avenue and Camelback on Friday. Later that night, she got a text message from him saying he had been kidnapped because “Rod had gotten him into something.” Police later identified Rod by another name, Jaron, who was the victim’s childhood friend and current roommate.

In the text message, he told his girlfriend that he was scared and shared his location, which showed he was traveling along the I-10 in Chandler. A few minutes later, the victim’s girlfriend got a call from Adrian, another roommate. According to documents, Adrian told her that money was owed to a guy named “Tony,” later identified as the kidnapping suspect, whose real name is John Anthony Cole.

Court paperwork revealed that on Sunday, Jaron shared screenshots with the victim’s girlfriend of Cole’s cellphone number and a home address in Tucson. The next day, Phoenix police were tipped off about a possible kidnapping. “Family had advised us that they had been in contact with someone that had allegedly kidnapped a loved one,” said Phoenix Police Sgt. Philip Krynsky.

Later that day, an officer contacted Adrian, who said he got a call late at night Friday where Cole said he was going to kill the victim if Jaron did not pay the money owed, police said. Detectives gathered cellphone records with location information showing Cole and the victim were together, traveling from Phoenix to Tucson. DPS troopers found Cole driving a Black BMW near Quartzsite on Wednesday, pulled him over and arrested him after they found human remains in the car. “Luckily with assistance of DPS we were able to locate the vehicle, stop it and detain him,” Krynsky said.

After being taken into custody, Cole reportedly told officers that the victim attacked him while they were stopped in a rural area off of I-10 for a bathroom break. Documents say he told investigators he strangled the victim to death in self-defense. According to police, Cole then took the body to his house in Tucson. And that weekend, Cole bought several cleaning supplies to dismember the body, court documents said. Ultimately, he showed officers where he dumped the rest of the body, in a rural area south of Tucson, investigators said.

Cole faces theft by extortion, kidnapping, abandonment, and concealment of a body, and a first-degree murder charge.