Category: Arizona

Joe Arpaio announces bid for sheriff reelection two years after Trump pardon

Former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio on Sunday announced he would seek another term as sheriff of Maricopa County, two years after President Donald Trump pardoned him. He had been convicted on charges of criminal contempt related to the hard-line tactics he used to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

“After consultation and approval from my wife of 61 years, Ava, I have decided to run to be reelected Sheriff,” Arpaio said in a news release Sunday. “Watch out world! We are back!”

Arpaio — who calls himself “America’s toughest Sheriff” — pledges his reelection will bring back some of his most controversial policing tools, including Tent City — the infamous outdoor jail where inmates wore pink underwear and shuffled around in chain gangs. The facility became a symbol of Arpaio’s 24-year tenure as sheriff. Critics have said the facility was demeaning for inmates, who stayed in scorching heat and ate calorie-controlled meals.

“I will continue to stand and fight to do the right thing for Arizona and America, and will never surrender,” he said. “Those who break the law will have to deal with this Sheriff.”

Arpaio, a vocal proponent of Trump’s presidency, echoed the President’s message Sunday, stating his goal as sheriff would be to “Make Maricopa County Safe Again.” Trump pardoned Arpaio in 2017 before he was sentenced for being in contempt of court for continuing to make immigration arrests after a court ordered him to stop.

“Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration,” the White House said in a statement after Arpaio’s pardon. “Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is (a) worthy candidate for a Presidential pardon.”

In 2018, Arpaio tried to leverage his national profile into an Arizona Senate run, but lost to Martha McSally in the state’s Republican primary. Still, his campaign announcement Sunday emphasized ambition beyond Arizona — stressing the need for “tough policing” across the country.

“The last four years have proven to be a time of lost opportunities to continue the kind of tough policing this county needs,” Arpaio said. “Once back in office, I will use my position to restore pride to our law enforcement ranks, not only here, in the fourth-largest county in America, but across the country.”

Paul Penzone, the current sheriff of Maricopa County who ousted Arpaio in 2016, is expected to run for reelection.

A man who got laid off gets hundreds of job offers after handing out his résumé on the side of the road

PHOENIX — Patrick Hoagland of Phoenix was down on his luck after getting laid off from his job as a forklift operator at a metal recycling company. He filled out applications online and handed out résumés to local businesses, but he wasn’t getting any responses.

He decided he needed to do something different and decided to stand on a streetcorner with a sign.

“I had only been unemployed a few weeks, but it was very unexpected and I needed to figure something out fast,” Hoagland, 30, wrote in an email. “I at first laughed and thought that was silly, but I kept thinking about it. I figured, why not?! There are millions of people in Phoenix driving around, someone might hire me.”

He printed out 200 copies of his résumé and hit the streets in search of work last week. Melissa DiGianfilippo saw him while she was driving through Phoenix.

“I was impressed with Patrick because it was 110° outside and what I saw was really unexpected,” DiGianfilippo wrote in an email. “He was standing on the side of the road with a sign and a stack of resumes and a huge smile on his face.”

DiGianfilippo owns a marketing and PR agency and was impressed by his creativity, so she grabbed a copy of his résumé. She realized that his experience was not a fit for her agency but decided to post his résumé on social media to see whether someone in her network could help him.

What happened next surprised both Hoagland and DiGianfilippo.

Hoagland received thousands of messages from businesses, contractors, recruiters and even people just wishing him luck — not to mention more job offers than he could have ever expected.

“I was definitely hoping he would get some good job leads out of the post, but I definitely did not anticipate it blowing up in the way it did!,” DiGianfilippo said. “The post on LinkedIn is what really has taken off the most, generating thousands and thousands of re-shares, reactions, and likes. I also posted it as an Instagram story which got a ton of engagements and people wanting to reach out to him, on Facebook and on Twitter. I am so amazed by how many people re-shared the post because they really wanted to be a part of a positive story.”

After combing through all the offers, Hoagland ultimately decided on Flatline Concrete Grinding in Phoenix. He met owner Kerry Burkhart and immediately knew that her company was the right fit for him.

“I think in general this is a good reminder for people that it takes just a few minutes sometimes out of your day to really change someone’s life or make their day better,” DiGianfilippo said.

Hoagland and DiGianfilippo have kept in touch, and he updated her throughout his journey. DiGianfilippo easily could have driven past and not taken action, but she’s glad that she did, and Hoagland could not be more thankful for it.

“She has been so great, she didn’t need to help me, but she did and it has changed my life,” he said. “I am so grateful for her.”

FBI found ‘bucket of heads, arms and legs,’ bodies sewn together at Arizona body donation facility

**The details in this story/video may be considered graphic or disturbing to some**

PHOENIX, Ariz. — A lawsuit testimony provides gruesome details of a FBI raid in which agents found buckets full of body parts and a body made of sewn-together parts from different people that was hung up on a wall at an Arizona body donation center.

According to KTVK, the FBI raided the Biological Resource Center (BRC), located in Phoenix, in 2014 as part of a multi-state human body parts trafficking raid.

One agent claimed he saw “a cooler filled with male genitalia,” “a bucket of heads, arms, and legs,” “infected heads,” and “a small woman’s head sewn onto a large male torso like Frankenstein and hung up on the wall,” the news outlet reports.

The lawsuit also says bodies were cut apart using chainsaws and bandsaws and that pools of blood and bodily fluids were found on the freezer floor.

“This is a horror story. It’s just unbelievable! This story is unbelievable,” said Troy Harp, who is one of over 30 plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the facility.

Harp donated his mother and grandmother to the BRC in 2012 and 2013 with the understanding that their bodies would be used for scientific purposes.

Harp told the news outlet he received his mother’s ashes via mail but now isn’t sure they’re really hers.  Adding that his mother and grandmother wanted to help advance medical research, however, he doesn’t believe their bodies ever made it out of the BRC.

He is also calling for stricter regulations on these types of facilities.

BRC owner, Stephen Gore, reportedly pleaded guilty to illegal control of an enterprise. He was sentenced to one year of defered jail time and four years probation.

92-year-old woman allegedly killed her son over plan to send her to nursing home

FOUNTAIN HILLS, Ariz. – Newly released body camera footage, detective interviews, and 911 calls shed light on a murder that shocked the Phoenix area KNXV reports.

Anna Mae Blessing was arrested on July 2, 2018, for the shooting death of her 72-year-old son Thomas Blessing at their home in Fountain Hills.

Blessing told detectives she was upset about her son’s plans to put her in an assisted living facility. Blessing also said she was angry with how her son and his girlfriend, who also lived at the home, were treating her. She claims they were mean and did not care for her.

When the couple got home from a vacation and ignored Blessing, she told Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputies she walked into their bedroom with two concealed pistols in her robe pockets.

The grandmother said she got in an argument with her son and pulled out a revolver. “I can’t remember the caliber, it was a good size one,” she told a detective after being arrested.

Blessing said she did not remember why she removed the gun, but she said as Thomas lunged, she fired multiple rounds, killing her only son.

“I backed up and I pulled the trigger, and it broke the mirror and I don’t know what I did,” she said. “Then Tom was going to come at me again so I pulled the trigger…I’m sure the second round hit him.”

“Where did it hit him?” asked the MCSO detective.

“I have no idea, but I do know I killed him,” explained Blessing. “I bent over and took his pulse, and there was no pulse. So I knew I killed him.”

After she shot Thomas, she then admitted to pointing the gun at her son’s girlfriend. The two struggled over the weapon before the girlfriend knocked the revolver away.

The girlfriend, Julie, can be heard screaming at the dispatcher for help in newly released 911 calls.

“Help me! Help! She’s going to shoot me! She’s going to shoot me!”

Julie later told police how she was able to disarm Blessing. “I got that gun away from her. It was a brown gun and I believe I threw it,” said Julie.

“She got in her pocket and she pulled out another gun … I grabbed onto her and I was yelling, ‘Stop Ann! Stop.’ She’s strong for 92, let me tell you. And when I knocked her down, she took the gun and she put it in my side. Then she pulled it up again.”

Blessing had a second pistol but never used it.

“Then I went to my bed and sat in the chair and waited for police to come,” said Blessing.

During a roughly 11-hour holding period, with hours of interrogation, coughing, and naps, Blessing confessed multiple times.

“I killed my own son,” she said. “He was coming at me, so I fired the gun.”

She also explained her motive. “I didn’t want to go to a nursing home and he would promise me I never would have to.”

The 92-year-old was of sharp mind, correcting the detective at some points, but she was also clearly elderly.

“Right now I’m so damn tired, I don’t know,” said Blessing, who also had a Life Alert necklace and hearing aids on at the time of her arrest.

“When you reached down and felt that he didn’t have a pulse, how did you feel?” asked the detective.

“I didn’t have much of a feel I guess,” she replied.

“How do you feel right now about what happened?”

“I wish I had stayed in Florida,” said Blessing

Blessing did not appear remorseful throughout the lengthy interview.

When asked if she felt bad about pointing the gun at Julie — who she said she was close friends with weeks prior — she responded, “Yeah kind of. But she’s part of the trying to get me put in a nursing home too … so I don’t know that I do feel that bad.”

Blessing ultimately told the detective, “I probably ought to be put to sleep.”

“What can I do for society?” she asked out loud, “I killed my son. The person I brought into this world.”

Blessing died in jail hospice on January 25, 2019. She was set to stand trial for the murder weeks later in March.

Her only granddaughter told KNXV after the arrest that she thought Blessing should be released from jail where she could have her dignity back.

New video, 911 audio released after 92-year-old woman allegedly killed 72-year-old son

FOUNTAIN HILLS, Ariz. – Newly released body camera footage, detective interviews, and 911 calls shed light on a murder that shocked the Phoenix area KNXV reports.

Anna Mae Blessing was arrested on July 2, 2018, for the shooting death of her 72-year-old son Thomas Blessing at their home in Fountain Hills.

Blessing told detectives she was upset about her son’s plans to put her in an assisted living facility. Blessing also said she was angry with how her son and his girlfriend, who also lived at the home, were treating her. She claims they were mean and did not care for her.

When the couple got home from a vacation and ignored Blessing, she told Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputies she walked into their bedroom with two concealed pistols in her robe pockets.

The grandmother said she got in an argument with her son and pulled out a revolver. “I can’t remember the caliber, it was a good size one,” she told a detective after being arrested.

Blessing said she did not remember why she removed the gun, but she said as Thomas lunged, she fired multiple rounds, killing her only son.

“I backed up and I pulled the trigger, and it broke the mirror and I don’t know what I did,” she said. “Then Tom was going to come at me again so I pulled the trigger…I’m sure the second round hit him.”

“Where did it hit him?” asked the MCSO detective.

“I have no idea, but I do know I killed him,” explained Blessing. “I bent over and took his pulse, and there was no pulse. So I knew I killed him.”

After she shot Thomas, she then admitted to pointing the gun at her son’s girlfriend. The two struggled over the weapon before the girlfriend knocked the revolver away.

The girlfriend, Julie, can be heard screaming at the dispatcher for help in newly released 911 calls.

“Help me! Help! She’s going to shoot me! She’s going to shoot me!”

Julie later told police how she was able to disarm Blessing. “I got that gun away from her. It was a brown gun and I believe I threw it,” said Julie.

“She got in her pocket and she pulled out another gun … I grabbed onto her and I was yelling, ‘Stop Ann! Stop.’ She’s strong for 92, let me tell you. And when I knocked her down, she took the gun and she put it in my side. Then she pulled it up again.”

Blessing had a second pistol but never used it.

“Then I went to my bed and sat in the chair and waited for police to come,” said Blessing.

During a roughly 11-hour holding period, with hours of interrogation, coughing, and naps, Blessing confessed multiple times.

“I killed my own son,” she said. “He was coming at me, so I fired the gun.”

She also explained her motive. “I didn’t want to go to a nursing home and he would promise me I never would have to.”

The 92-year-old was of sharp mind, correcting the detective at some points, but she was also clearly elderly.

“Right now I’m so damn tired, I don’t know,” said Blessing, who also had a Life Alert necklace and hearing aids on at the time of her arrest.

“When you reached down and felt that he didn’t have a pulse, how did you feel?” asked the detective.

“I didn’t have much of a feel I guess,” she replied.

“How do you feel right now about what happened?”

“I wish I had stayed in Florida,” said Blessing

Blessing did not appear remorseful throughout the lengthy interview.

When asked if she felt bad about pointing the gun at Julie — who she said she was close friends with weeks prior — she responded, “Yeah kind of. But she’s part of the trying to get me put in a nursing home too … so I don’t know that I do feel that bad.”

Blessing ultimately told the detective, “I probably ought to be put to sleep.”

“What can I do for society?” she asked out loud, “I killed my son. The person I brought into this world.”

Blessing died in jail hospice on January 25, 2019. She was set to stand trial for the murder weeks later in March.

Her only granddaughter told KNXV after the arrest that she thought Blessing should be released from jail where she could have her dignity back.

3 cubs rescued after mother bear killed by car in Arizona

ST. GEORGE — Three bear cubs were rescued Monday after a car struck and killed their mother on a busy Arizona roadway. The St. George News reports.

At 4:15 a.m. emergency personnel in Arizona responded to a single-vehicle crash on state Route 77 in Dudleyville, a town in Pinal County about 60 miles north of Tucson, involving a vehicle that struck a bear.

Troopers arrived to find the driver of the vehicle uninjured in the collision, but the bear was dead by the time they arrived on the scene, trooper Vanessa L. Sevilla, spokeswoman for the Arizona Department of Public Safety, said in an email to St. George News. It was then troopers found three bear cubs that were four months old that narrowly missed being struck as well.

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Arizona parents share video of medical staff dropping baby on table, demand apology

CHANDLER, Ariz. – An Arizona couple is speaking out and demanding an apology after medical staff were caught on camera dropping one of their newborn baby girls, KNXV reported.

Derrick and Monique Rodgers shared the video to Facebook, and within hours, it had been viewed millions of times.

According to KNXV, the incident happened at Chandler Regional Medical Center just seconds after Madison and and Morgan were born February 14.

In the video, Morgan, weighing just over three pounds, is dropped from a hospital employee’s hands onto a table. Nurses are seen scrambling to keep her from hitting the floor.

Rodgers told KNXV that when he confronted the doctor with the video, he received an apathetic response.

Both parents said that aside from being small, having been born prematurely, Morgan seems to be in good health. They do worry that she seems to tense up and shake at times, according to KNXV.

Monique said an apology would have gone a long way after the accident.

Sheriff’s office calls out Arizona hiker for wearing sandals

GILA COUNTY, Ariz. — An Arizona sheriff’s office called out a group of hikers who weren’t prepared for a 10-mile hike and had to be rescued.

“This hiker failed to take the posted warnings seriously as she and seven others had to be rescued out of Fossil Creek yesterday,” the post read Monday. “Definitely not appropriate footwear for the ten mile hike.”

Photos on the Gila County Sheriff’s Office’s Facebook page show cloth sandals that appear to be broken.

It’s not clear how the shoes are broken, but they weren’t appropriate for hiking.

The sheriff’s office also posted a photo of its sign at Fossil Creek that mentions having proper footwear.

“Wear sturdy hiking shoes, not flip-flops,” the sign says.

The sign says 200 people have to be rescued out of Fossil Creek each year.

It tells hikers to bring water, sun protection, proper shoes and to be prepared for a 10-mile hike in 100-degree temperatures at an elevation of 6,000 feet.

Police: Patient kills other patient over loud radio at Arizona psychiatric facility

PHOENIX – Phoenix police say an 83-year-old man is dead after getting into a fight with another patient at the Arizona Community Protection and Treatment Center Tuesday morning.

Authorities were called to the psychiatric facility at the Arizona State Hospital around 7:32 a.m.

Police said Donald Prather got into an argument with a patient in the room next door about his radio being too loud.

Robert Wayne Fleming, 58, struck Prather several times and he fell to the ground unconscious, and struck his head on the floor.

Prather was taken to the hospital where he later died, said Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson.

The Arizona Department of Health Services issued the following statement late Tuesday night:

The Arizona Department of Health Services notified the Phoenix Police Department about an incident involving two individuals at the Arizona Community Protection and Treatment Center (ACPTC) and is cooperating with authorities as they conduct the criminal investigation. The ACPTC provides treatment and housing for individuals who have committed a sexually violent offense, completed their mandatory sentence with the Arizona Department of Corrections, and are deemed unsafe to return to the community based on their status as a sexually violent person with a high likelihood to reoffend. These individuals are court ordered to our facility through a petition process by the county prosecutor.

Fleming was booked into the Maricopa County Jail where he is facing second-degree murder charges.

Child punched for not being good enough lookout for shoplifting grandma, police say

PHOENIX, Ariz. – A 7-year-old was punched after not being a good enough lookout for his shoplifting grandma, police say.

Phoenix police responded to a Walmart near 75th Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road on Friday night for a suspected child abuse call.

Court documents state 27-year-old Rebecca Gonzales came to the store to pick up her 7-year-old son, who was being used by his grandmother as a lookout while she shoplifted.

Officers reportedly saw Gonzales slap and punch the child in the face when she was in the parking lot.

The child reportedly told police that he was hit because “he didn’t watch out for his grandma good enough.”

Police say the child’s mouth was bleeding when officers saw him.

Gonzales has been arrested for aggravated assault.