An Arizona man is accused of killing nine people in a three-week span, including his mother and stepfather.
Cleophus Cooksey Jr. was arrested after fatally shooting his parents in Phoenix on Dec. 17, but investigators have now tied him to seven other murders in the area.
“Our detectives didn’t stop there, they kept digging,” Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams said during a press conference on Thursday.
The bodies of Rene Cooksey and Edward Nunn were found in their home. All the slayings took place between Nov. 27 and Dec. 17 in the Phoenix area.
The killer’s mother, Rene ‘Spanksy’ Cooksey is final known victim
Initially the nine murders lacked a regular pattern and could not all be connected to Cooksey, until he was in custody.
A month later, police said they had utilized new technology to link Cooksey to at least seven other unsolved homicides in metro Phoenix, including killings in a south Phoenix alley, at Glendale apartment complexes and in grassy fields.
The Arizona Republic reports that the victims include the brother of Cooksey’s former girlfriend, but the other victims appear to be random: “Our streets are safer today,” Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said as he credited multiple law enforcement agencies for the collar.
The first two victims, 27-year-old Andrew Remillard and 21-year-old Parker Smith, were killed on Nov. 27.
On Dec 2, Cooksey allegedly killed Salim Richards, 35, before murdering his ex-girlfriend’s brother, Jesus Bonifacio Real, 25.
Two days later, he killed 29-year-old Latorrie Beckford on Dec 11, followed by Kristopher Cameron, who was found kneeling in a grassy field on Dec 15
Authorities say Maria Villanueva, 43, was sexually assaulted and murdered by Cooksey on Dec. 16, before he was arrested at the scene of the murders of his mum Rene Cooksey, 56, and stepdad Edward Nunn, 54, on Dec 17.
Police responded to a shots-fired call and discovered the younger Cooksey at the residence. He was arrested at the scene.
Chart of Cooksey Jr’s victims which paints a random portrait, police said
The common thread during the investigation was the gun which linked Cooksey to all nine victims was the murder weapon. The gun belonged to the suspect.
The suspected serial killer, who is 35, was convicted of manslaughter when he was just 16. As reported by the Arizona Republic, Cooksey and four others had attempted to rob a topless bar in Phoenix, leading to the death of one person.
After spending all of his 20s in prison on the manslaughter conviction, he has been in and out of law enforcement custody in recent years.
because the murders were spread across demographics and were committed using various methods, officials have not ruled out the possibility that there could be more victims.
Investigators have recommended Cooksey be charged with seven additional murder counts, along with charges of prohibited possession of a firearm, armed robbery and sexual assault.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office will make the final charging decision.