The Scottsdale Police Department identified the man investigators believe was behind a six-murder crime spree in three different cities -- Phoenix, Scottsdale and Fountain Hills -- over the course of several days.
Assistant Chief Rich Slavin of the Scottsdale Police Department confirmed that Dwight Lamon Jones, 56, shot and killed himself at a Scottsdale hotel Monday morning as police closed in on him.
Jones’ victims included a well-known forensic psychiatrist who testified against him in court in 2010, two paralegals who worked for the law office that represented the suspect’s wife, a marriage-and-divorce counselor who was apparently targeted in a case of mistaken identity and another man and woman in Fountain Hills, authorities said.
Slavin ran through the timeline of events, starting with the shooting death of forensic psychiatrist Dr. Steven Pitt the evening of Thursday, May 31.
With the help of a witness, the Phoenix Police Department released a composite sketch of the suspect early in the investigation.
Less than 24 hours later, two women – Laura Anderson, 49, and Veleria Sharp, 48, – were shot and killed at Burt/Feldman/Grenier, the Scottsdale law firm where they worked.
Sharp was shot in the head but ran out of the office to get help before collapsing on the street, police said. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.
Less than 12 hours after that, a fourth victim, Dr. Marshall Levine, was found dead and connected to the previous shootings. Levine's girlfriend had gone to his office to check on him because she had not heard from all day. It's not clear exactly what time he was killed.
Levine appears to have been mistaken for someone else who once occupied the same office. At one time, the space was used by a counselor who saw Jones’ son as part of the divorce. Levine, who took over the space, was not involved in the divorce case.
Following up on leads from the public and evidence gathered from the scene, police developed probable cause to start surveillance on Jones and began piecing things together.
“He had the divorce situation back in 2009 and ’10,” Slavin said. “During all of that time, he was related to all of the victims in some way.”
His now ex-wife was represented by Burt/Feldman/Grenier and as part of the court proceeding, he had been required to see Pitt. In addition, his son was required to see another therapist. That therapist used to be in the office where Levine was shot and killed.
Police believe Jones may have been targeting the attorney, but she was not present Friday when Jones went to the office in downtown Scottsdale.
“With all of this evidence strongly pointing towards him, we continued to surveil him,” Slavin explained.
Slavin said, police are still working on connecting the Fountain Hills homicides but said that while under surveillance, Jones disposed of a gun belonging to the male victim found at that house.
In addition to connecting the first four murders through ballistics, police were able to match DNA found at the first murder scene to Jones through familial testing. Those lab results came in early Monday morning, only a few hours before Jones killed himself.
Analysis of shell casings found at Pitts’ office, the law firm and Levin’s office confirmed that the victims were killed with the same gun, police said.
Jones’ DNA was found on one of the spent casings. And traffic cameras showed a vehicle fitting the description of Jones’ gold Mercedes near the law firm 30 minutes before the double killing on Friday, police said.
“We knew that he was our suspect and murderer,” Slavin said.
[CONTINUING COVERAGE: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Fountain Hills killing spree]
While investigators have not definitely pinned down Jones' motive for the six murders, Slavin said it appears his intention was "to right some wrongs."
"Mr. Jones was clearly a strong, strong candidate, and everywhere we turned, we kept finding more and more links ... based on the divorce from eight or nine years ago," he said.
Today is not a success story but it is a story that has closure.
~ Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone
Police located Jones at an Extended Stay America in Scottsdale early Monday morning. Detectives later learned that he had been living in various Extended Stay hotels for nearly the past decade.
As police were clearing the hotel as a precaution, Jones, alerted to their presence, fired several times. No officers or civilians were hurt.
When officers went into Jones’ room, they found him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Slavin said Jones had been arrested on domestic violence charges prior to his divorce.
“Personally, I have feared for my safety for the past nine years,” Jones’ ex-wife, Connie Jones, said in a statement Monday afternoon. “I cannot express the emotions I feel for the innocent families touched by this senseless violence.” [Read her entire statement below.]
He was a very emotionally disturbed person as the court records will confirm.
~ Connie Jones, Ex-wife of Dwight Jones
Marriage and divorce between Connie and Dwight
Connie filed for divorce in 2009 because she feared for her safety and the safety of their only child.
During the 20-year marriage between Connie and Dwight, he was accused of physically abusing his wife countless times, including one incident where he fractured her sternum in 2007, according to the couple's divorce records.
The breaking point appeared to come two years later, when Jones attacked Connie in front of their child, "backing the mother into a wall, pushing and hitting her in the face with his forearm," documents said.
That night, according to court paperwork, Dwight threatened to kill his wife, saying "the police would find her at the bottom of the pool."
The incident prompted the courts to grant the wife an order of protection against Dwight.
It was during the exhaustive divorce proceedings when Dwight met the first victim of the killing spree, Dr. Pitt. After evaluating Jones, Pitt testified in the divorce case that the "father has anxiety disorder, mood disorder and features of an anti-social, narcissistic and paranoid personality," documents said. Pitt also testified Dwight "poses a high risk to perpetrate violence toward mother, the minor child and/or himself," documents said.
The court eventually granted the divorce in November 2010.
According to court documents, Connie renewed the order of protection for several years after the divorce and that order prevented Dwight from possessing a gun.
Connie helps police connect the dots
She said her current husband, a retired police detective, made the connection between the Phoenix and Scottsdale shootings and her divorce from Jones. She said he contacted the Phoenix Police Department Saturday and she contacted the Scottsdale Police Department Sunday.
“We started to see that Mr. Jones was visiting them in an effort to right some wrong based on what we could see,” said Slavin.
Slavin said investigators will likely be on the scene at the Extended Stay where Jones killed himself well into the night and possibly into Tuesday morning.
"We’re taking our time and making sure we don’t miss anything and we give these victims and their families the justice they deserve," Slavin said.
At the same time, MCSO will continue its investigation at the Fountain Hills home where Bryon Thomas and Mary Simmons were found shot to death.
There were several agencies involved in this investigation, the leaders of which agreed that teamwork was key to identifying Jones as a suspect so quickly.
"If there is anything positive that can come out of these atrocities, it is the speed and tenacity with which your law enforcement joined together to bring justice to our communities," Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said.
"The last 96 hours I believe reflects one individual’s actions that are the worst of humanity," Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said. "Today is not a success story but it is a story that has closure.”
"As a medical professional and a citizen, I am deeply saddened by the tragedy caused by my ex-husband. 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 senseless violence.
"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. 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.
"Over the next several days, my family will attempt to come to grips with this horrible chain of events. We ask for privacy during this difficult time."
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