Cow elk poaching case being investigated near Strawberry

FLAGSTAFF – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is investigating the poaching of a cow elk, which occurred on November 10 or 11 in southern Game Management Unit 5A about 10 miles north of Strawberry.

The elk was found near U.S. Forest Service Road 308H, which is a closed road near USFS Road 308. Evidence found at the scene indicates the poachers were likely camped off the closed road and they also illegally killed an unidentified non-game bird in the same location. There was no elk season going on at the time the poaching occurred.

Investigating officers also discovered bloody fingerprints on litter found at the scene and possible DNA evidence was recovered as well.

“We are hoping the public may remember seeing a camp on the closed road during this particular weekend and can provide some vehicle or suspect descriptions,” Game and Fish Wildlife Officer Garrett Fabian said. “Getting some information now means we won’t have to wait a long time for lab results to come back to identify the suspects.”

Anyone with information about the case can call the Department’s Operation Game Thief Hotline toll-free at (800) 352-0700 or use the online form at www.azgfd.gov/ogt. Callers should provide case number 17-004469, information obtained will remain confidential and callers may remain anonymous upon request.

A reward of up to $2,500 is being offered in this case for information leading to the arrest of the violator(s).

To learn more about Operation Game Thief, visit www.azgfd.gov/ogt.

Burglary Investigation Leads To Recovery Of Property

FREDONIA – On Sunday September 10th the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office received a report of a burglary and theft of a generator, tent and two large water containers from a residence in the White Sage area. White Sage is a residential community of about 50 residents in Coconino County approximately 13 miles south of the Town of Fredonia.

A Coconino County Sheriff’s Deputy and the Fredonia Town Marshal responded and conducted an investigation into the incident. The two officers discovered vehicle tracks on the victim’s property and indicators of removal of the property by vehicle. The officers followed the vehicle tracks to a neighboring property where they contacted a male and female. After receiving permission to search for the stolen property all the items were located and recovered. Criminal charges are pending upon the completion of the investigation.

ADOT detectives nab 89-year-old accused of using stolen identity for 28 years

PHOENIX – A Mesa resident who allegedly used the identity of his deceased brother to collect nearly $300,000 in Social Security benefits has been charged with forgery and fraud schemes thanks to Arizona Department of Transportation detectives’ use of facial recognition training and technology.

After being alerted by the facial recognition system, ADOT’s Office of Inspector General found that Frank Becht, 89, had for the past 28 years been using the name, date of birth and Social Security number of his brother, Kenneth Becht, who died in 1989.

In September 2009, Becht applied for an Arizona identification card under the stolen name at the Mesa MVD office. In April 2010, Becht applied for a driver license under his real name. He updated each of the credentials in the last couple of years.

ADOT’s facial recognition system found Becht’s photo on his profile and a profile under his brother’s identity. Detectives, who have FBI training in facial recognition, determined that both of the photos were of Becht.

ADOT’s investigation found that the Social Security Administration hadn’t been made aware that Becht’s brother, Kenneth, had died 28 years ago, and therefore had been paying out benefits. ADOT detectives found Kenneth Becht’s death certificate and provided it to federal officials.

The investigation also revealed that Becht had used his brother’s identity on credit cards and state-issued IDs in Maryland, Virginia and Nevada.

ADOT detectives arrested Becht, who was released without being booked. Charges for fraud schemes and forgery have been filed with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office.

This case is one more example of how facial recognition technology used by ADOT’s Office of Inspector General protects Arizonans’ identities and helps prevent fraud involving state-issued driver licenses and identification cards.

Man Arrested on Charges Related to Domestic Incident near Parks

PARKS – On August 8, 2017 at approximately 12:24 pm, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office responded to a domestic dispute occurring between a male and female driving eastbound on I-40. Information was that the couple was travelling from Las Vegas, NV to Texas when a dispute occurred. The female reporting party had tried to exit the vehicle at a gas station in Parks, AZ. At some point during the incident the male fired a shot out of the window from a handgun.

The male subject was located with the vehicle and taken into custody. Thirty-six year old Johnnie Wilcox, III of Killeen, TX was booked into the Coconino County Detention Facility with expected charges of Disorderly Conduct with a Weapon and Felony Endangerment.

ADOT detectives nab man accused of stealing identity of baby killed 35 years ago

PHOENIX – A Tempe resident who allegedly stole the identity of a baby killed 35 years ago has been arrested thanks to Arizona Department of Transportation detectives’ use of facial recognition training and technology.

Acting on a tip from the Social Security Administration, ADOT’s Office of Inspector General found that Jeremiah Ash, 35, had for the past several years been using the name, date of birth and Social Security number of Michael Anthony Lewis II, who was 10 months old when he was killed in Oceanside, California.

ADOT detectives located the Arizona driver license in Lewis’ name and ran the photo through the facial recognition system. The system got a hit from Ash’s profile in the state’s driver license database. The detectives, who have FBI training in facial recognition, determined that both of the photos were of Ash.

In December 2012, Ash applied for an Arizona driver license under the stolen name at the Tempe MVD office. Two years later, he returned to apply for a motorcycle endorsement under the same name.

ADOT’s investigation found that Ash has an extraditable warrant out of Michigan for failure to pay child support. He was arrested on July 19 and booked at the Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail on identity theft and forgery charges.

A search warrant carried out by ADOT detectives at Ash’s Tempe residence uncovered falsified documents in the victim’s name as well as literature on how to steal a person’s identity.

The Social Security Administration provided the death certificate for Lewis, revealing that he was the victim of a homicide in 1982.

Ash used the same stolen identity in Florida to obtain a driver license. ADOT detectives notified Florida officials, who are now building their own case against Ash.

This case is one more example of how facial recognition technology used by ADOT’s Office of Inspector General protects Arizonans’ identities and helps prevent fraud involving state-issued driver licenses and identification cards.

Manhunt is Being Scaled Back but Efforts to Identify and Locate Suspect Continue

The manhunt for the suspect of the shooting incident that occurred on July 4 near the Canyon Point Campground in Forest Lakes, AZ will be scaled back as of this evening. The manhunt started yesterday and continued last night and through today. Law enforcement teams were unable to locate the suspect. Air and ground teams found no clues to indicate that the suspect is still in the area. The suspect had originally been a person of interest in several brush-fire starts the previous day.

The safety of citizens in the area is still a priority. Although some resources are being withdrawn and reallocated to other assignment needs, law enforcement will continue to have an enhanced presence in the area. Local, state and federal agencies continue to cooperate in this investigation and to work together to identify and locate the suspect. Law enforcement officials will continue to assess the situation and follow up on leads and information that comes available.

The public is asked to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious activity or persons to law enforcement immediately. If you have any information about the crime or the suspect, please call the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office at 1-800-338-7888 or Coconino County Silent Witness at 928-774-6111.

Man Arrested for Shooting Incident near Ash Fork

Ash Fork – Coconino County Sheriff’s deputies and detectives have arrested an Ash Fork man in connection with a shooting incident surrounding a domestic dispute.

On Sunday May 7 Coconino County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of shots fired at a home in Kaibab Estates West, a residential subdivision outside Ash Fork. Deputies contacted the occupants of the home and found that no one had been shot; however, several shots had been fired outside the home.

Through the investigation, deputies learned that 47-year-old John Wayne Slater of Ash Fork had driven to the victim’s home to confront him about Slater’s estranged wife who was staying at the home of the victim. Slater approached the door to confront them and was armed with a handgun. The homeowner and Slater spoke briefly at which time the homeowner closed the door on Slater. Slater fired several shots outside the front door. Slater went back to his vehicle and began to drive off and fired several other shots, then fled the area.

No one was hit by the gun fire but a vehicle parked in the driveway was found to have one bullet hole.

Deputies located Slater a short time later and took him into custody without incident.

Slater was arrested for one count of Aggravated Assault, 2 counts of Disorderly Conduct with a Weapon, 2 counts of Felony Endangerment, Criminal Damage and trespass and booked into the Coconino County Jail.

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Names of victims of double homicide released

WILLIAMS – The Coconino County Sheriff’s Office released what most people in Williams, sadly, already knew. The victims have been identified as the home owners, 67-year-old Michael Dimuria and his 64-year-old wife Nora Dimuria.

The investigation of a double homicide in Red Lake north of Williams is continuing. Sheriff’s detectives as well as a team from the Arizona Department of Public Safety comprised of investigators and crime scene technicians are on their second day of processing the scene. No other details are being release at this time.

The couples white 2006 Jeep Liberty 4 door bearing Arizona license plate of 123-VDL is missing from the home. The Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to be on the lookout for this vehicle and to contact law enforcement immediately if they see the vehicle.

Sheriff’s Office Investigates Double Homicide

WILLIAMS – Coconino County Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating a double homicide in the Red Lake Community located 8 miles north of Williams AZ.

On Tuesday, May 2nd, at approximately 9:00 am the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a neighbor of the victims reporting he had found his neighbor dead. Sheriff’s Deputies from the Williams District responded to the location and upon further investigation in the residence found two deceased adults, one male and one female who had resided at the home. The Sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Unit out of Flagstaff was contacted and responded to the location.

We are asking for the public’s help in attempting to locate the couple’s vehicle missing from the home. We are looking for a 2 door, 2006 Jeep Liberty white in color, bearing AZ plate 123-VDL.

Vandalism damages recreational facilities on Williams Ranger District

WILLIAMS – A recent trend of vandalism occurring at numerous Kaibab National Forest recreation sites on the Williams Ranger District has prompted a public service announcement in an attempt to curtail these unlawful activities.

Unsightly graffiti paint, physical structure damage, and theft are among the latest offenses identified at several recreational locations that are about to open for the summer season.

“This kind of unruly activity makes it difficult to prepare our facilities for opening by the scheduled dates.” said Recreation Specialist Dutch Maatman. “Not only does it take extra time to make these repairs, but it can be very costly detracting from our limited budget allocations. It negatively impacts both our visitors and our program.”

Forest officials are encouraging all members of the public to speak up if you witness any activity that disturbs, defaces or damages any property being managed by your national forest. If you see something, say something.

As with any crime you may be witness to, contacting your local law enforcement authority is always the safest action to take. You can also call the local district offices directly to report a crime or any other suspicious activity that may be occurring. Contact your local office at these locations:

• Williams Ranger District, 742 S. Clover Road, Williams; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; (928) 635-5600
• Tusayan Ranger District, 176 Lincoln Log Loop, Tusayan; 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; (928) 638-2443
• North Kaibab Ranger District, 430 S. Main St., Fredonia; 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; (928) 643-7395

The mission of the United States Forest Service is “To sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.” Its motto is “Caring for the land and serving people.”

Kaibab National Forest Officials would like to invite everyone to take a vested interest in helping with the success of the mission by participating in the protection and conservation of your national forest resources.

For more information about the Kaibab National Forest, visit: www.fs.usda.gov/kaibab