(3TV/CBS 5) - Some of the most notorious killers in American history are from Arizona, specifically the Phoenix area. Here’s a look at some cases that were shocking and sensational.
Jodi Arias, one of the most well-known Arizona killers, was convicted of first-degree murder in 2012 for the 2008 killing of ex-boyfriend Travis Alexander. Alexander was discovered by friends in the shower at his Mesa, Arizona home. Crime scene photos showed a brutal, bloody scene in multiple rooms. Alexander suffered a gunshot wound to the head, suffered dozens of stab wounds and his throat was slit.
The trial and sentencing trials gained national attention and were broadcast around the world. Arias spent 18 days testifying in her own defense. Some of that testimony included salacious tales of Arias and Alexander’s sex life and Arias’ claims that their relationship had become physically and emotionally abusive. Court-appointed counsel for Arias argued that Alexander’s death was an act of self-defense
On May 7 2012, Arias was found guilty of first-degree murder after 15 hours of deliberation.
After two sentencing trials ended in mistrials, Judge Sherry Stephens sentenced Arias to life in prison without the possibility of parole
In one of the most high-profile killings in Arizona history, Robert Fisher is accused of murdering his family and causing an explosion in their home to cover up the killings. Fisher is currently on the FBI’s list of Ten Most Wanted.
On April 10, 2001, emergency crews responded reports of a home explosion on Scottsdale. Fire crews found a home that was fully engulfed in flames and completely destroyed. Once firefighters were able to get the fire out and search the remains of the house, they discovered the severely burned bodies of Fisher’s wife Mary and children, Brittany, 12 and Bobby, 10.
Investigators determined that Mary had been shot in the back of the head and the children’s throats slit from ear to ear. The gas line to the furnace and been pulled out and Fisher fashioned a delayed fused out of candle to in an attempt to cover up the murders.
Fisher disappeared right after the explosion and on April 14, 2001, was officially named a suspect in the crime. On April 20, Mary’s Toyota 4Runner and the family dog Blue were found in a remote area in the Tonto National Forest north of Payson, Arizona. This is the last known evidence of Fisher’s whereabouts.
An arrest warrant for Fisher was issued on July 19, 2001, on 3 counts of murder and one count of arson and Fisher was declared a fugitive. There have been many reports of Fisher sightings, but none have been conclusive.
In 2016, the FBI and Scottsdale police released age-progression photos of what Fisher would currently look like on the 15-year anniversary of the murders. Fisher remains a fugitive of justice and there is a $100,000 reward for information that leads to his arrest.
THE PHANTOM KILLER
In 1967, two young girls were murdered in the town of Sierra Vista, Arizona by a killer who called himself “The Phantom.” During the spring and summer months, residents were gripped with fear after 7-year-old Cindy Clelland’s naked, mutilated body was found in a desert area near Fort Huachuca. One week later, a handwritten letter arrived at Sierra Vista police headquarters with a message that read, in part, “I am The Phantom. You have found my first victim. My next victim lives on Steffan Street. 9 yrs old. (Fools!!!)” Police identified the 9-year-old girl mentioned in the letter and provided 24-hour protection.
On June 22, another little girl vanished. Jenelle Haines was 6-years-old. At around 11 a.m., Jenelle was playing near the Lakeside Officer’s Club. Her brother said she had been talking to a tall, thin, black teenage boy when she disappeared. Search teams found her body later that day. She was naked and murdered in a similar fashion as Cindy Clelland.
William Huff, a 16-year-old high school student with a history of law enforcement run-ins, was connected after a description Janelle’s brother gave to investigators matched Huff. Huff’s handwriting sample also matched the letter from “The Phantom.”
Huff ended up pleading guilty to both murders and was sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for one murder and 40 years to life for the other. CBS 5 Investigates discovered that Huff was released to a Tucson hallway house in January of 2016.
Starting in the summer of 2005, the Baseline Killer terrorized the citizens of metro Phoenix until June of 2006 with a string of murders, sexual assaults, armed robberies, and kidnappings.
The crimes first started around Baseline Road and spread towards Central Phoenix. The suspect was described as using a variety of disguises but was mostly known for dreadlocks and a fisherman-style bucket hat. A sketch with that disguise was displayed on billboards and posters across Phoenix, offering a $100,000 reward.
Mark Goudeau was arrested in September of 2006 after parole officers suggested to the Phoenix Police Department task force that Goudeau resembled the sketch. Phoenix detectives obtained a search warrant for Goudeau’s apartment and found items that were linked to crimes committed by the Baseline Killer. DNA evidence also linked Goudeau to the September 2005 sexual assault of two sisters in a Phoenix park, one of whom was pregnant.
Goudeau went on trial in September of 2007 for sexual assault on the two sisters and was convicted of 19 charges and was sentenced to 438 years. While serving that sentence, Goudeau was found guilty of 67 felony counts related to the Baseline Killer crimes, including 9 murders and was sentenced to death for the nine murders. Goudeau is currently on death row in an Arizona State Prison and maintains his innocence.
While the city of Phoenix was gripped with fear by the Baseline Killer, another string of violent crimes only added to the hysteria.
Dale Hausner had already committed a series of violent, random crimes when he met Samuel Dieteman drinking at a bar in early 2006. Shortly after, Dieteman would join Hausner in a series of shootings, which Hausner called “recreational violence”, starting with a murder in Scottsdale on May 2. The pair would continue their rampage during the summer of 2006. Phoenix Police received a tip from a drinking buddy of Dieteman’s that he had bragged about their crimes. Detectives started surveillance and wiretaps on the pair and they were eventually arrested in August of 2006.
Dieteman pleaded guilty to two of the murders and conspiracy related to some of the other killings. He also agreed to testify against his former partner-in-crime, Dale Hausner. In 2009, a jury sentenced Dieteman to life in prison.
Also in 2009, Hausner was convicted by jury trial of 6 of 8 murders and sentenced to 6 death penalties. On June 19, 2013, he was found unresponsive in his cell and pronounced dead. The cause of death was found to be suicide by overdose.
The headless, limbless torso of Ira Pomerantz, 60, was discovered in the dumpster behind a Mesa, Arizona grocery store in late January of 2000. A deliveryman witnessed a blonde woman dumping the body and wrote down her license plate number. Police tracked the woman’s Jaguar back to the home of Valerie Pape, Pomerantz’s estranged wife.
Pape admitted to dumping the Pomerantz’s remains in the dumpster, four days after finding him dead of a gunshot wound in their home. It is unclear what Pape did with the body during those four days, but Pape had feared she would be accused of the crime. There was a history of domestic violence between the couple and prosecutors believe at the time some sort of domestic incident happened before Pomerantz’s death.
Pape pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in August 2002 and sentenced to 16 years in prison with no parole. Under her plea agreement, Pape did not have to disclose who, if anyone, helped her cut up Pomerantz’s body. Pape was deported to her native France in 2016 after serving her sentence.
SCOTT FALATER - THE 'SLEEPWALKER'
On January 16, 1997, police responded to the home of Scott and Yarmila Falater after neighbors heard screams and called 911. Police discovered the body of Yarmila floating in the pool.
A neighbor told police he witnessed Scott drag his wife to the pool and held her head underwater. Scott never denied he killed his wife, maintaining that he was sleepwalking when he stabbed his wife 44 times, held her head underwater and hid the bloody knife in his Volvo before police arrived.
During his 1999 trial for first-degree murder, family members testified that Scott had a history of sleepwalking. Prosecutors argued that Scott was able to recognize his dog and calm him during the so-called sleepwalking episode. The jury wasn’t convinced and found him guilty of the murder of his wife. Scott was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
JASON DEREK BROWN
It was a crime that shocked the Ahwatukee community, an armored car heist that ended with the cold-blooded murder of an armed guard. The assassination took place during a routine cash pick up at the AMC theaters near 48th Street and Ray Road on the Monday after Thanksgiving in 2004.
Police later named Jason Derek Brown as their main suspect. He is accused of shooting armored car driver Robert Palomares five times in the head at close range. The FBI added him to their Top 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list.
BRANDI L. HUNGERFORD AND ROBERT LEMKE
A former stripper and her boyfriend were arrested in 2002 for the murder of Empire Glass TV Pitchman and millionaire Rick Chance. Brandi Hungerford testified that she lured Chance to a Tempe hotel with promises of sex and convinced him to bring $1 million worth of jewels to show friends. As Chance checked into the hotel room, Hungerford called her boyfriend, Robert Lemke, letting him know Chance had arrived. Lemke put on a mask, entered the hotel room and shot and killed Chance before taking the jewels.
Hungerford was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison. She was released in August 2016. Lemke was sentenced to life in prison and is first eligible for parole in 2032.
THE CRACKHEAD KILLER
The discovery of a decomposing body in a camper led Phoenix police to arrest Cory Morris for deaths of five prostitutes. After his 2003 arrest, Morris admitted to police that he lured the women with drugs and strangled them during sex. He kept their bodies for days and used them for sexual gratification before dumping them in an alley.
At first, police treated the deaths as routine overdoses. As the body count rose, police became suspicious.
Morris was sentenced to death for the murders.
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