Police Seek Clues in Murder of Brianna Wells, 17, Daughter of Prominent Tempeans

Categories: Death Valley

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Brianna Wells
Phoenix police are still seeking clues in the murder of the 17-year-old daughter of two prominent Tempe residents.

A local resident taking out trash in an alley near 18th Place and Roeser Road about 9:30 a.m. on Monday spotted what appeared to be a person sleeping and called police. Cops found the body of Brianna Wells. She had suffered "trauma" to the body, police said, and one news outlet reported that she had been beaten.

Wells is the adopted daughter of Dave Wells, a well-known lecturer with Arizona State University's Interdisciplinary Studies Program, and Rochelle Wells, Tempe Elementary School District Governing Board president.

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Marijuana-Design Entrepreneur Michael Perez Killed in Tempe Home Invasion; W/Update

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Michael Perez
A 22-year-old Tempe man was killed on Tuesday after several men burst into his family's home and shot him during an apparent marijuana robbery.

Michael Perez was home with his wife and 3-year-old son in the 1000 block of East Manhattan Drive at about 9:20 p.m. when the assailants made a "forced entry," says Tempe police Lieutenant Michael Pooley.

(See below for update)

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Shayla Brattin, a.k.a. "Batgirl," Arrested as Accomplice in Murder of Church Janitor

Categories: Death Valley

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Shayla Brattin.
Shayla Jeanne Brattin, nicknamed "Batgirl," is the second person to be arrested in connection with the June 24 murder of a Glendale church janitor.

Police listed the 23-year-old woman as homeless in court records, though most of her Facebook selfies appear to have been taken in a home. She's accused of -- and reportedly confessed to -- a key role in a crime scheme that climaxed with the senseless shooting death of 72-year-old Mark Woodruff.

The robbery was of the scarier variety: A group of punks desperate for drug money spotted the elderly man at a gas station and tailed him home, where one of them shot the victim.

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Phoenix Police Count 125 Murders in 2013, Two Fewer Than Last Year

Categories: Death Valley

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Image: Ken kcdsTM via flickr
Phoenix police counted 125 murders in 2013, two fewer than last year.

The preliminary figure released today at the request of New Times shows the city hasn't had the large reductions seen last year in many other major U.S. cities. New York City, for example, experienced 20 percent fewer homicides last year over the year before.


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Fewer Line-of-Duty Deaths Among U.S. Cops in 2012, FBI Reports

Categories: Death Valley

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robbplusjessie via Flickr


Though 95 law enforcement officers who died during a cop-related accidents or while chasing down some criminal activity during 2012, there were 125 deaths in 2011. And there were 128 intentional or accidental deaths in 2010.

Arizona made the unfortunate list in 2012 with the death of William "Bill" Coleman, a Maricopa County Sheriff's deputy who was gunned down on January 8, 2012.

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Michael Helms, 16, of Mesa Kills Mom as Friend Watches; Stepdad Escapes Attack

Categories: Death Valley

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Michael Roy Helms and Christian Lee Blakely
A 16-year-old boy described by a classmate as a "giant teddy" allegedly beat and choked his mom to death on Saturday morning, then attacked his stepdad.

Michael Roy Helms and his accomplice, 17-year-old Christian Lee Blakely, were being held on $1 million bonds and charged as adults by the Maricopa County Attorney's Office. Blakely's accused of watching his friend kill Helms' mother, Tina Helms Spencer, then helping clean up the blood and dispose of her body in a backyard shed.

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Two 15-Year-Old Kids Accused of Unrelated Murders Lived a Mile Apart From Each Other

Categories: Death Valley
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Tex Texin via Flickr


This year, two Valley 15-year-olds have been accused of murder, in two completely separate incidents.

The two suspects, Ladajianna Mosely and Leonard Moreno, lived about a mile apart from each other.

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Leonard Moreno, Age 15, Arrested in Shooting Death of MCSO Jail Officer Jorge Vargas

Categories: Death Valley
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Photo by Matthew Hendley
Left to right: Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Police Chief Daniel Garcia, and City Councilman Michael Nowakowski.


The accused killer of Maricopa County Sheriff's Office jail guard is just 15 years old.

Phoenix Police Chief Daniel Garcia announced the arrest this afternoon, saying Leonard Moreno, a 15-year-old, drug-dealing gangster, is the one accused of shooting Officer Jorge Vargas outside his home last month.

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Alexis Urbina, 17-Year-Old Boxing Champ, Killed in Phoenix

Categories: Death Valley
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Alexis Urbina's Twitter
Alexis Urbina (right), after his youth championship fight in April.


A 17-year-old national boxing champion who was training for the 2016 Olympics has died.

Phoenix police say Alexis Urbina-Ochoa's death is currently being treated as a homicide, although the autopsy results still aren't in.

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Rajneesh Saini of Tempe Shot 3-Month-Old Son to Death Before Committing Suicide, Cops Say

Categories: Death Valley
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Alan Cleaver via Flickr


Police believe a 25-year-old Tempe resident fatally shot his 3-month-old son before committing suicide.

Rajneesh Saini was at a family gathering at a home in Chandler when he went out to his vehicle and committed the murder/suicide, police believe.

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