Scottsdale homicide suspect identified; he’s linked to six killings
Before he killed himself, Dwight Lamon Jones fatally shot six people, with some of them having a connection to his acrimonious divorce, authorities in Arizona said Monday.
Investigators are trying to figure out if his last two victims, a man and a woman found dead inside a house on Monday, were linked to the divorce, Scottsdale Police Commander Richard Slavin said Monday at a news conference.
Jones’ ex-wife and child are safe, and she issued a statement on Monday. “He was a very emotionally disturbed person as the court records will confirm. Personally, I have feared for my safety for the past nine years,” Connie Jones said.
Police cornered Dwight Lamon Jones, 56, Monday morning in an extended stay hotel in Scottsdale where they had tracked him. As police cleared surrounding rooms before making the arrest, Jones fired seven or eight of shots at officers, Slavin said.
“The gunfire stopped, and they methodically moved forward, clearing carefully, ensuring that they were safe,” Slavin said. “And eventually in this action they found that Mr. Jones had killed himself, self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
The killings happened quickly, starting last Thursday afternoon. Police said the suspect killed a noted forensic psychiatrist, two paralegals and a counselor. All the victims were shot within 24 hours of each other and within a 10-mile radius in Scottsdale and Phoenix. Police said the fourth victim, though found Saturday morning, died Friday afternoon.
On Monday morning, the fifth and sixth victims were found in Fountain Hills, a suburb of Scottsdale.
DNA and shell casings
Investigators realized the first four killings had been committed by the same person because shell casings found at the crime scenes were similar, Slavin said.
Police got a tip about Jones on Saturday night, Slavin said. Once police made him a suspect, they obtained a DNA sample from one of Jones’ relatives in northern Arizona and the lab matched it to DNA on a shell casing, he said.
“We had a great circumstantial case against Mr. Jones but we really wanted that definitive proof that it was him,” Slavin said. “And it was his DNA on those shell casings that took us through all those scenes. We had that proof.”
Hours later, police moved in to make the arrest.
Police didn’t say who gave them the tip, but it may have come from his ex-wife’s current husband.
In her statement, Connie Jones said: “My husband, Richard Anglin (a retired Phoenix police detective), recognized the connection to my divorce and the three crime scenes and he notified the Phoenix Police violent crime unit on Saturday night.”
Jones goes on to say, “As a medical professional and a citizen I am deeply saddened by the tragedy caused by my ex-husband.”
Six homicide victims
The first person killed was Steven Pitt, a forensic psychiatrist who was involved in several high-profile cases. He was found shot dead in Phoenix on Thursday after witnesses heard a loud argument and gunshots, officials said.
Jones was examined by Pitt under court order during the divorce proceedings, Slavin said. Jones had been arrested on domestic violence charges in 2009 or 2010, he said. CNN affiliate KNXV reported that he filed for divorce in May 2009.
Pitt provided expertise in the investigation into the death of child beauty queen JonBent Ramsey in 1996, he served as an adviser to prosecutors on the Columbine High School shooting, and he was a consulting expert in Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault case, according to his website.
Some of the victims’ connections to the divorce were tenuous.
Veleria Sharp, 48, and Laura Anderson, 49, were shot and killed at a Scottsdale law firm Friday afternoon, according to Scottsdale Police.
Both worked as paralegals at the law office of Burt, Feldman, Grenier, a family law firm. Jones’ ex-wife had been represented by Elizabeth Feldman, a law firm partner, during the divorce, Slavin said. Investigators said they think Feldman was the real target.
Anderson had worked there for more than 10 years, the firm said in a statement to CNN affiliate KNXV.
“Her intellect, passion and friendship has meant more to us than we can even begin to convey. She was more than a co-worker, she was a friend, a mother, grandmother, daughter and wife and gave all of herself to her family, her friends and her work,” Burt, Feldman, Grenier said.
Sharp was a dedicated mother, wife and daughter, the law firm said.
“Veleria was a treasured member of our work family. She brought joy, calmness, warmth and compassion to all that she did,” the firm added.
Marshall Levine, 72, was also found dead Saturday in his office at a Scottsdale mental health counseling facility. He had been shot and was found in his office by an acquaintance.
Levine had nothing to do with the divorce, but was renting space in the offices where a therapist who examined Jones’ child once rented space, Slavin said.
The fifth and sixth victims have not been identified. They were found Monday morning at a house in Fountain Hills, about 20 miles northeast of Scottsdale.
Slavin said investigators had suspected Jones and knew he’d been to the home, but at that time didn’t have enough evidence to charge him.
Maricopa County authorities went to the house to knock on the door, Slavin said. When the couple didn’t answer, officers put a ladder up to the window and noticed a man shot in the head upstairs, Slavin said. Officers entered the home and found the woman also fatally shot.
Jones was connected to those killings by a package he was seen dropping in a trash can, Slavin said.
The package contained a .22-caliber pistol that was owned by the man who lived in Fountain Hills, he said. That connected him to those two deaths. The pistol was not used in the killings, Slavin said.