Tempe Sees Huge Spike in Murder for 2010

Categories: Death Valley
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Following the second highly publicized, unsolved murder of an Arizona State University student in six months, the Tempe Police Department has come under fire for its handling of violent crimes.

The department responded to media inquiries about crime statistics by issuing a press release yesterday touting how violent crime has decreased considerably since the same period last year. In the same release, however, the department announced that the number of homicides in Tempe has skyrocketed in 2010 to the second-highest murder rate in 20 years.


So far this year, 12 people have been murdered in Tempe -- that we know of -- in 10 separate incidents. That's a considerable increase from the two murders within the city in 2009.

The average number of homicides in Tempe per year is five, according to the department.

Other violent crimes, like assault and robbery, are down 13.7 percent this year, the department claims, but observers believe that number may be skewed.

"It's real easy for police to turn a robbery into a theft [for the sake of crime statistics]," says former Mesa Detective Bill Richardson.

Richardson is highly critical of the Tempe department and tells New Times that many violent crimes in Tempe could have been classified as something else for recording purposes.

Much of the outrage directed at the Tempe cops isn't necessarily about the number of murders that have happened recently, but the number of unsolved murders -- as documented by Richardon, a contributor to Valley Fever.

Check out a column Richardson penned on the matter for the East Valley Tribune here.

The most publicized of Tempe's six unsolved murders is the case of Kyleigh Sousa, the 21-year-old ASU student killed after she was robbed and dragged by the car of the man who robbed her.

The latest murder was of another 21-year-old ASU student, Zachary Marco, which was the city's 12th homicide this year and happened within a mile of where Sousa was murdered.

Another of this year's highly publicized murders was J.C. Call, a 19-year-old shot execution-style at a Tempe machinery shop within a few miles of where both Sousa and Marco were murdered.

All three of these killings remain unsolved.

Another memorable case with no closure in sight is that of Jeffrey Ahlers, a 47-year-old Tempe man found shot to death in a canal.

Check out his story here.

Tempe police still won't say whether the case was a homicide or a suicide.

"I have heard nothing new on that case," Tempe police spokesman Steve Carbajal tells New Times this afternoon.

Several of Ahlers' friends have contacted New Times and say he was a happy man with absolutely no reason to kill himself. They're insulted that the department would suggest his death was a suicide, especially given Ahlers' strong religious views and that police won't say whether a gun was found along with Ahlers' body, which would only make sense if he had killed himself.

Ahlers' friends, many of whom live on the East Coast, want answers. For now, all they're gonna get is the following statement from the Tempe PD:

"One homicide is too many and each incident is tragic and unique from the others," the Department says in a press release. "The Tempe Police Department is committed to fighting crime in our city and will continue to diligently investigate all crimes and we remain committed to being open and forthright with our community about crime in our city."

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11 comments
Right
Right

We always need to blame someone right... It's the police department's fault that people are killing each other, couldn't possibly be a much bigger issue with our own society, Maybe we should blame the guns used, that usually fixes things doesn't it?

Eleanor
Eleanor

Thank you for this story. I can see that crime is now as out of control as the Tempe Police Chief Tom Ryff.

Tempe leadership should have seen this coming but they forgot to take off their blinders to all things bad in Tempe.

Tonight I will be speaking at Tempe council meeting to the city leadership regarding this issue.

I would like to encourage as many people to come to the meeting and speak or just listen to what is being said. It will be interesting to see what the response will be from the city leaders.

Tom Ryff is usually there sitting in the back of the room completely oblivious to what is going on the in the meetings texting all his buds.

Thanks again for the story. My thoughts and prayers go out to all the families and friends of the people murdered.

Closet Cop
Closet Cop

Tom's guilt comes from his inability to come to grips with his own latent homosexuality and hate for women. The time has come for Tom to come out of the closet and live the life God meant for him to have.

OSS
OSS

Tempe Police Chief Tom Ryff, in his guilt ridden and socoiopathic mindset, is too busy investigating and undermining the critics of his failed leadership to be concerned with major operational issues. Within the PD he is known as the ghost who is rarely seen, and through his assistants only promotes the same ambyguous and vague doctrine to the committees which he delegated decision making and leadership.

Their spokesperson mitigated the most recent murder by saying crime is actually down as if things aren't that bad. In response to public concern he declared two days later that one murder is too many. The entire department has apparently taken on Chief Ryff's paranoid and defensive posture to anything seemingly critical of their actions.

Deputy Dog
Deputy Dog

Tempe police couldn't catch the clap in a border town whore house.

Tired of worthless people
Tired of worthless people

Chief Tom Ryff can't lead. He might as well be in a bunker. Ryff worries what will surface next as he tries to wait out the last 20 years of his sexual escapades. Everyone knows the upper management has hunkered down because of Ryff's personal problems. No one is doing anything because upper management is in shutdown mode to protect Ryff. tempepolicecloset dot com will tell you why everyone there is in crisis mode and all because of the Chief playing with women who aren’t his wife.

Hock
Hock

What variables have changed? Police? Population? Time for Tempe PD to self-evaluate and make some changes...perhaps in management.

Mike Wells
Mike Wells

I would like to see stats that compare this with the new law allowing anyone to carry concealed. Having taken the classes and been a lawful firearms owner for at least 15 years now, I thought that was a bad law. I like my guns, and I plan to own more. I DON'T like the idea of registering them with some government agency, but I also liked the idea that you had to go through at least SOME training before you could legally stick a gun down your pants and wander the state. The CCW class was very informative, we learned the difference between civil and criminal courts, when you should and shouldn't draw, same with when you should and shouldn't open fire. We learned that pulling out your gun and threatening to shoot, or waving your gun around is a criminal act, that you don't draw the gun unless you need to and you don't threaten to use it, you actually use it. We learned about the myths of gun ownership, like shooting a burglar who is leaving your house, then dragging him back in(Doesn't work), and so on. Now, any moron who can't even figure out which end of the gun to point away from himself can stick on in his pocket and feel like he has the right to solve a parking spot debate with it.

Scary...

Ricco
Ricco

Roger that! I am 58, was a cop in the 70s when you could be one at 19 1/2..have carried legally my entire life. Combat Handguns magazine is a great publication because it offers many articles on both criminal and civil consequences of the use of deadly force.There should be a minimum of training, both in class and on the range, before "anybody" is allowed to carry a handgun. Since the passing of that "anyone can carry" law, I think we will start to see more of these senseless shootings. Last week, on the I-10, a guy got shot for honking his horn at someone who cut him off. Arizona, brace yourself...it ain't gonna be pretty.

PavePusher
PavePusher

Manditory requirements to exercise a Civil Right? Sorry, but no.

P.S. If you think it will be so bad, please explain Vermont, which has never required a licence to carry in any manner. Blood in the streets.... oh wait, doesn't happen. Alaska too.

P.S.S. Criminals will still be barred from legal carry. Just like... forever.

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