Police in Arizona have identified divorce litigant Dwight Lamon Jones, 56, as the suspect who killed six people in the Phoenix area before he shot himself and was found dead at an extended-stay hotel in the Scottsdale area. Among those who Jones killed were two paralegals who worked at the Scottsdale law firm that had represented Jones’ ex-wife, Connie Jones, during the divorce proceedings.
Connie said she and her current husband had tipped police that her former husband could be the suspect. Police used DNA provided by relatives and DNA on shell casings at one of the murder scenes to link the man to the crimes. Connie had filed for divorce in 2009, but it was not resolved until last year.
The first victim, 59-year-old forensic psychiatrist Steven Pitt, was well known for his work on the 1996 killing of child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey. Investigators said Pitt provided services to Jones as a result of a court order. The paralegals killed the following day were Veleria Sharp, 48, and Laura Anderson, 49. They had both worked for the law firm Burt Feldman Grenier. Connie Jones had been represented by law firm partner Elizabeth Feldman.
The fourth victim who was found dead on the third day of the crime spree was counselor Marshall Levine, 72. He had sublet office space from a counselor who was ordered to see Jones’ son during the divorce.
The bodies of two other victims found dead, 70-year-old Mary Simmons and 72-year-old Bryon Thomas, were discovered on the fifth day in a home in Fountain Hills, Arizona. A witness identified Jones as having been at the scene of the crime, and police say he threw a pistol belonging to one of the victims into a trash can nearby. It’s unclear if they had any connection to the divorce. The discarded weapon was not the one used in the shootings.
Scottsdale police Cmdr. Rich Slavin confirmed the tip from Connie’s current husband, a former Phoenix police detective, ultimately helped investigators identify the shooter. And, he said, if they hadn’t closed in on him sooner, the number of casualties likely would have grown. Authorities indicated that the man’s killing spree was an effort to “right some wrongs” stemming from the litigation.
“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,” Connie said in the statement. “I also contacted the Scottsdale Police Department on Sunday morning. Any reward money collected will be donated to the families of the victims and to Chrysalis, the non-profit agency that helps victims of domestic abuse and violence.”
She added, “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. I cannot express the emotions I feel for the innocent families touched by this.”
“It’s unfortunate…we weren’t able to save lives. Although the conclusion likely saved lives of those this person intended on harming,” Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said at a press conference following the events. “Today is not a success story, but it’s a story that has closure.”