Police: personal vendetta appears to be motive of Scottsdale killing spree

Dwight Lamon Jones (photo by Scottsdale Police Department)

Six murders that occurred in the areas of Scottsdale, Phoenix and Fountain Hills are believed to be connected, police officials announced on June 4, stemming from what appears to be a personal vendetta.

Since Thursday, May 31, six Valley residents have been shot and killed by suspect Dwight Lamon Jones, 56. Police officials say they believe Jones’s 2009-10 divorce proceedings are behind the brutal action.

Jones died in an Extended Stay hotel, 10660 N. 69th Place in Scottsdale. He was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound inside his room shortly after 8 a.m. on June 4.

Local and federal law enforcement officials held a 3 p.m. Monday, June 4 press conference at Scottsdale Police Department headquarters, where two additional murders in Fountain Hills were announced.

Police believe Jones was intending to kill Elizabeth Feldman, local Scottsdale attorney, whom was hired during his divorce several years ago, and two court-ordered psychiatrists for him and his son.

Jones succeeded in killing one of the doctors, while work to determine the connection between Jones and the victims is still being determined, police say.

The victims in this case are: Dr. Steven Pitt; Veleria Sharp, 48; Laura Anderson, 49; Marshall Levine, 72; Mary Simmons, 70; and Bryon Thomas, 72.

Six victims

At 2:15 p.m. on Friday, June 1, Scottsdale patrol officers responded to a shooting call in the area of First Street and 75th Street, officials say.

When officers arrived, they found an adult female victim with a gunshot wound to the head, police say. The victim had walked to a bus parked in the intersection to ask for help. The Scottsdale Fire Department transported the female victim to an area hospital where she later died.

Officers followed a trail of blood to a business east on First Street, officials say. Once inside, they discovered a second adult female victim who was deceased from a gunshot wound.

The victims have been identified as Veleria Sharp, 48, and Laura Anderson, 49. Both women worked as paralegals at Burt Feldman Greneir, 7509 E. First St.

Police say their investigation has determined this double homicide is related to the shooting of Steven Pitt on May 31 in Phoenix.

“As we investigated this scene we were contacted pretty quickly by the Phoenix Police Department, and they were inquiring as to some information about our crime scene and if it was possibly related to their crime scene, in which Dr. Pitt was murdered,” Scottsdale Police Department’s Assistant Chief of Police Rich Slavin said.

Assistant Police Chief Rich Slavin (file photo)

“Ballistic evidence collected from our scene on First Street and the Phoenix scene did confirm that our victims were killed using the same weapon, therefore linking our cases.”

Mr. Pitt, was a prominent forensic psychiatrist who had consulted in high-profile murder cases, according to The Washington Post. He was shot outside his office in broad daylight Thursday afternoon, The Post reported.

On Saturday, June 2, SPD announced it was investigating another shooting at a business at 8010 E. Morgan Trail Suite, No. 1. Marshall Levine, 72, was identified as the victim. Mr. Levine was found deceased in his office by his girlfriend at approximately 12:10 a.m. on June 2, police say.
She immediately called 9-1-1; evidence indicated that Mr. Levine had been shot twice, police say.

“Shell casings recovered from this scene as in the previous, were compared to ballistic evidence from the other two scenes. We again had a match linking the homicide to the others,” Mr. Salvin said.

Officials believe Jones was possibly in the Fountain Hills area between noon and 1:30 p.m., Mr. Slavin said, and worked to associate Jones’ association to a local residence before contact.

At approximately 12:22 a.m. on Monday, June 4, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office conducted a welfare check at 14906 E. Kit Fox Place in Fountain Hills. At that time, two additional victims were discovered deceased from gunshot wounds inside the home.

“They tried several times, knocking on doors, going around the residence,” Mr. Slavin said of MCSO officials visiting the house on Kit Fox Place. “Eventually because they knew of our concerns, they used a ladder to see through an upstairs window and immediately recognized that a gentleman inside appeared to have been shot.”

The victims have been identified as Mr. Thomas and Ms. Simmons.

Scottsdale Police Department patrols in the Old Town area. (Independent Newsmedia/Arianna Grainey)

Investigation

Mr. Slavin says that at about 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, June 3, police officials received a tip — one of several hundred — that was in reference to Jones.

“We were working this all through the night — on the following day on June 3rd, at 10 a.m., we began actively trying to locate Mr. Jones,” he explained.

Police believe Jones was in the Fountain Hills area between noon and 1:30 p.m.

“We were actively trying to locate him but we had not located him until approximately 3:20 p.m. on that day, when we actually physically saw him driving his gold Mercedes,” Mr. Slavin said.

“We covertly surveyed him for some time, and somewhere between 3:20 p.m. and close to 10 p.m. we had an active surveillance monitoring Mr. Jones, monitoring his behavior and observing the places he was going, and things he was doing.”

At some point during the evening, detectives observed Jones remove a small bag from his vehicle, placing it in a small trash can in the area of Scottsdale Road and Shea Boulevard.

“As he walked away from that we recovered it, and we recognized immediately that it was a pistol – a small .22 caliber pistol — and that was inconsistent with as it relates to caliber that were used in these crimes,” Mr. Slavin said.

The .22 caliber pistol was, however, determined to belong to Fountain Hills’ victim Bryon Thomas. Jones also threw away a second bag, containing a hat matching the description provided by a witness in Dr. Pitt’s homicide, police say.

A DNA sample obtained from the Phoenix crime scene where Dr. Pitt was murdered didn’t match any current profiles on record, but a DNA sample from relatives living in northern Arizona established a match with Jones, police say.

“We felt very strongly about Mr. Jones as we learned more and more about him, he had a divorce situation in 2009-10 and during all of that time, he was related to all of the victims in some way,” Mr. Slavin said.

Police say that attorney Elizabeth Fledman was involved in his divorce case, and that as part of his divorce proceedings, Jones and his son were required to see psychiatrists.

Dr. Pitt was Jones’ doctor; while another doctor used to be in the office space now obtained by Mr. Levine.

“His son, as a part of the divorce proceedings, had to see an additional psychiatrist that would have normally been in the space Dr. Levine was in — kind of a sublet situation,” Mr. Slavin said.

“It directly related Mr. Jones to all three of these locations and specifically to some of the individuals. We started to see that Mr. Jones was visiting them in an effort to right some wrongs.”

Based on evidence, including recent YouTube video uploads by Jones, police say they believe Jones’s intent was to kill Elizabeth Feldman and Dr. Pitt.

“Balistically we have linked all of the shootings, except the last one — we’re still working on that one, the one in Fountain Hills — but all the other scenes we have linked to the same weapon and now that we have Mr. Jones’s DNA on a shell casing, aligned with that weapon as well, that puts him in all those places,” Mr. Salvin said.

A joint statement was issued by Sandra Burt, Elizabeth Feldman and Mary Kay Grenier regarding the Scottsdale shootings on June 4.

“We feel tremendous sorrow for the victims of this senseless tragedy. Our hearts go out to the families of Laura, Valeria, Steven and Marshall. We hope that everyone remembers these great people for the warmth and love they showed during their lives,” the statement reads.

“We appreciate the efforts by Scottsdale and Phoenix police department and all law enforcement who helped protect the public during this dangerous spree. The law firm continues to work with authorities to help obtain a complete picture of why this mass murder occurred. We ask for some time to come to terms with this tragedy and ask for privacy as we mourn these losses.”

Northeast Valley News Services Editor Melissa Rosequist can be e-mailed at mrosequist@newszap.com or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/mrosequist_.

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