Man accused of killing his roommate, chopping up his body inside a Phoenix home
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — The body of a man who hadn’t been seen or heard from for about a month was found chopped up in his Phoenix home, and police said they caught the man who did it. Thomas Wallace was roommates with the unidentified man and is now facing multiple felonies in connection to his death.
The man hadn’t talked to his family, and police tried to see if he was OK at his home near 30th and Campbell avenues, which is north of Indian School, for a couple of weeks. Neighbors said they had previously seen homeless people often at his home. Another two weeks went by, and no word from the man. So police went to his house and, with the help of firefighters, forced their way into the home. Officers said it smelled really bad. So they searched the home and found two black trash bags inside the bedroom, which had different parts of the victim, investigators said.
Homicide investigators arrived the next day and found blood on the living room ceiling, on several walls and furniture. It appeared somebody had tried to clean up the blood on the floor. Police say detectives searched a pile of linens and discovered a human head attached to his upper body that was cut off, which belonged to the victim.
Investigators discovered the man’s car was missing and tracked it down to a motel down the street. That’s where they found Wallace, and Romana Gonzalez, who lived off and on with the victim, according to court records. Both were taken into custody on Thursday. Wallace requested a lawyer, but Gonzalez talked to the police. She said she wasn’t staying with the victim recently because of Wallace’s behavior. It’s unclear when Wallace killed the man, according to court records, but Gonzalez said she and a friend went to the man’s home on Sept. 30 and saw blood on the front living room floor. They later found the man’s body inside the house.
According to police, Wallace and Gonzalez pawned some of the man’s items last week. They included a camera bag with a camera and a 10-inch chainsaw hedger with a pole attachment. They received $50. Detectives later learned the bag had a portfolio with the victim’s business card, court paperwork said. When investigators confiscated and processed the chainsaw, they could smell decomposition on it and saw pieces of flesh and torn ligaments on the blade, police said.
People living in the neighborhood were stunned to hear something so violent happened there. Ruby Lowry has known the victim since they moved onto the same street back in the 1970′s. “He was a very good neighbor he would help anybody. It’s a sad thing to happen to him. He didn’t deserve that,” she said.
Lowry said the man was an Air Force veteran in his 80′s. She said he was the neighborhood handyman. Lowry noticed people were coming and going pretty often from the home but never expected any of those people would be accused murderers. “I hope they get what they deserve because he would help anybody. That’s probably why he had them over there,” she said.
Wallace was booked into jail on one count of first-degree murder, one count of theft of means of transportation, two counts of trafficking stolen property and one count of concealing a dead body. Gonzalez was booked into jail on fraud and theft charges.
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