Arizona Daily Star: 2 bodies found in trunk of stolen car

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2 bodies found in trunk of stolen car

Press » Arizona Daily Star » 2005-03-08

By Becky Pallack

Two dead men were found in the trunk of a stolen car on the North Side on Monday morning, police said.

The victims in the double homicide have not been identified, and police will not say how they died, pending autopsy results.

Tucson police Officer Jeremy Williams was performing a routine check of a parking lot at Los Altos Village Apartments, 2525 N. Los Altos Ave., near East Grant Road and North First Avenue, when he found the bodies.

The officer became suspicious of a green 1998 Dodge Stratus he hadn't seen before, so he looked closer and noticed it didn't have a vehicle identification number.

Williams confirmed the car was stolen and called for a tow truck, and then began to inventory the items in the car. When he popped the trunk, he found the bodies.

Police would not release more information about the victims or the crime scene, but the murders were not random, said Sgt. Mark Fuller, who supervises the Tucson Police Department's homicide unit.

It's rare to find murder victims who were not involved in some risky activity, he said.

The two men likely were killed elsewhere and driven to the parking lot Monday morning, he said.

The car was stolen in the first week of February from a North Side thrift store operated by Goodwill Industries of Southern Arizona.

"I just figured it had disappeared, gone to Mexico," said Heidi Yoder, 24, who owned the car. She locked the doors before shopping but returned to find her car gone.

She didn't think it would ever turn up until police started calling her while she was visiting Saguaro National Park on Monday morning. They told her only that they had found her car, and Yoder gasped when she learned why it was surrounded by yellow crime scene tape when she arrived at the parking lot.

Apartment residents, too, were surprised the bodies ended up in their neighborhood.

The murders must be tragic for the victims' families, wherever they may be, said Tom Roach, who has lived in the apartments since the beginning of the year. But crime happens, he said, and unfortunately it hit home this time.

However, that block of apartments has been the scene of several strange deaths, including the January stabbing of Angela Smith.

Investigators ruled her death a murder after police in Blythe, Calif., found her killer, Richard "Ricky" Rodriguez, had committed suicide in his car there. Further investigation found the two were linked together in a Christian sect called The Family.

And in two separate cases - once in 1991 and again in 1992 - young men fatally shot themselves in the head while playing a gun game with friends there.

Monday's investigation brings the number of local homicide victims to 10 so far this year. By this time last year, local law enforcement agencies had investigated 25 homicides.

Anyone with information about the case can call 911 or 88-CRIME, the anonymous tip line of the Pima County Attorney's Office.