Sean Thomas Drenth was born in Tacoma, Washington, where his father, Greg, was stationed at a U.S. Army base.

The Drenths returned to Phoenix when Sean was 1 year old — Greg Drenth was the longtime head of building maintenance at the Arizona Republic, and his wife, Diane, began a career in the banking industry.

Ex-Phoenix cop George Contreras (performing with his band Blue Steel) was implicated in an off-duty security scandal that also was about to ensnare Sean Drenth.
Ex-Phoenix cop George Contreras (performing with his band Blue Steel) was implicated in an off-duty security scandal that also was about to ensnare Sean Drenth.
Forensic psychiatrist Steven Pitt says, "This story is like reading a book with two different covers and two different endings."
Paul Rubin
Forensic psychiatrist Steven Pitt says, "This story is like reading a book with two different covers and two different endings."

The family settled in the West Valley, where Sean soon established himself as a character to be reckoned with. As a kid, he adopted the persona of Batman and wouldn't answer to his given name for years.

Drenth was smaller than most of his peers, but he was plucky and blessed with a goofy sense of humor that often worked as a survival tactic.

When he was about 5 years old, Drenth befriended Tom Kilstrom at Manzanita Elementary School.

The pals later would be each other's best man at their weddings, and they shared a love of music that endured.

"Poison and Mötley Crüe when we were 11, and it went from there," Kilstrom says. "Sean was my brother, my twin."

The pair started playing music as teens — Drenth on guitar and Kilstrom on bass — with Drenth composing a slew of heavy-metal tunes.

Drenth attended Glendale Ironwood High, where as a sophomore, he met a cute freshman named Colleen Olson. The two were friends for months before taking the next step as boyfriend and girlfriend.

After Sean graduated, he took a job for almost four years as a clerk at the state of Arizona's Retirement System. He and Colleen got married in 1997 and settled into a life dominated by their love of movies, pets, and good times with friends and family. Over time, Sean would collect more than three-dozen guitars, some of which he bought from former cop George Contreras, who ran a guitar store.

Soon after their marriage in 1997, Sean told Colleen that he had applied to be a police officer.

"I said, 'No, that's too dangerous,'" Colleen recalls, "but that was his path."

Sean Drenth was 21 when the Phoenix Police Department hired him in 1998.

Without question, he loved being a cop from day one to the day he died.

Drenth was a spit-shine kind of guy who took deep pride in how he looked and acted in uniform.

Over time, Drenth began to study the history of the Phoenix PD and its fallen officers.

He was known for convening his various squads on the anniversaries of line-of-duty deaths of Phoenix officers. The squads would travel to crime scenes in dress-blue uniforms.

There, he briefly would recount the violent circumstances and offer each squad-mate a pin stamped with the late officer's initials and death date.

Drenth's performance ratings were exemplary. In June 2004, Chief Harris awarded him the department's coveted Medal of Valor after the officer rescued two elderly people from a burning apartment.

But cop to the core though he was, Drenth also had his personal life.

"I didn't think about Sean as a police officer," says his widow, Colleen. "It was more of his relaxing, hanging out, goofing around, watching movies, staying home on our lazy Sundays — our day. He rarely talked about work after work. And he had his music, which is where George comes in."

George Contreras, long the bad guy of choice (if not an official "person of interest") in the Sean Drenth case, says he can't fathom how anyone would suspect him of wrongdoing in the death.

"I loved Sean, one of my best friends," Contreras tells New Times. "That they linked me to his death was just wrong."

Contreras, who still faces several felony counts as the alleged kingpin of the Phoenix PD off-duty money scandal, told police shortly after Drenth's body was discovered, "There's no freaking way he committed suicide. Even if you guys said this is what it was, I wouldn't believe it."

Contreras, Drenth, and Tom Kilstrom played in a band together until the old saw — "musical differences" — ended the collaboration years before the sergeant died.

But Drenth and Contreras stayed in touch, even after the state Attorney General's Office started investigating the shenanigans that led to indictments of the three current Phoenix PD officers and Contreras.

Drenth's onetime partner, Jed Fisher, said Contreras' name "popped into my head" after he learned of his friend's death, and he visited the guitar store early the next morning.

"Something told me to go there and judge [Contreras'] initial reaction," Fisher told detectives. "Sean had told me that Colleen was pissed off he had kept in touch with George. [Contreras] was red-eyed. I looked at his arms for scratches. In my opinion, everybody's potentially a suspect until I prove otherwise. But [now] I don't think George had anything to do with it."

Contreras, whose guitar shop shut down earlier this year, told investigators in late October 2010, "We hadn't talked about the [off-duty] thing in years. Don't really care to talk about that, you know. All I know is what the media has been talking about."

Contreras is right in thinking that many people still suspect him of involvement in the murder of Sean Drenth.

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In May of 2009 I had been charged with misdemeanor assault arizing out of a DV incident. I was handcuffed and in police custody at the Squaw Peak Police Substation when I was attacked by 4 officers. Sean Drenth was present and like every other officer in the precinct that night failed to request medical care and even more the officers failed to mention anything about it in their reports. I was struck in the face, knocked unconscious and transported to 4th ave jail in that condition. I recieved absolutely no medical care until the next day when a nurse at the jail called me an ambulance. I have all the records and reports needed to show this happened. Out of fear I kept this incident to myself. I am a rather small female and was frequently harrassed by this group of officers. Again in Feburary 2010 I am arrested for the same bs and taken to the Squaw Peak station with Sgt. Drenth the acting supervisor. Again with my hands cuffed behind my back I was pushed to the floor by my arresting officer in plain view of other officers resulting in a gash to my eye and several broken teeth. To justify the excessive use of force I was charged with assaulting an officer and spent a month in jail. The charged was dismissed. I hired a civil attorney the second time. The two assaults have as far as I know only have two officers in common, Sgt. Drenth and Officer Ryan Murphy. Officer Murphy is mentioned in this article as being the only one who would speak out in favor of a suicide theory. He was one of the officers who beat me unconscious in May and he was my arresting officer in Feburary who pushed me face first to the cement floor of the precinct and charged me with felony assault. All this was fine with Sgt. Drenth who was a rather crappy babysitter to his young officers and indiferent to their conduct. My civil attorney was hired one month before Sgt. Drenth was found dead and about the same time he and Murphy were transfered to South Mountain. The civil attorney backed out of the case shortly before the statutes ran out and after Drenth was found dead (he took my case on contingency) saying it would cost to much for him and it was to risky because of my DV arrests.


Buh bye Drenth,  you suck started your shotgun and will not be missed. One down of many..just like the pigs Murphy, Figeroa, and Erfle. You punks won't be missed.


I have now read both parts to this sad saga.  Nowhere did it mention whether there was gunshot residue on Drenth's hands, or anywhere on his body to indicate where the shotgun was when it was fired.   I am not a homicide detective, but those two issues jumped at me.

Cops rarely commit suicide on duty. It is a slam to the department, in addition to the pain dumped on family.  I sure would like to know what the GSR tests showed.


@civilwrongs My friend has a very similar experience as you have described with Officer Ryan Murphy. What Goes Around Comes Around, Doesn't It?  I was cheering the day I read that Officer Drenth was found dead. I don't give a flying F if it was suicide or homicide. I'm just over-joyed  he's in hell.  Bless you my dear friend and survivor - CivilWrongs and that no good attorney you hired will meet his fate too. De Jure Sanjuinis Coronae!


The officers who would have been named in the complaint had it been filed are Ryan Murphy, Joel Zemaintis, Earl Erickson, Chad Moreth ( add perjury for him ) a few others I can't think of the names off hand however I never toss out any documents so I have a file collecting dust at home. One other officer who is bacteria on snail scrodum is Officer Brian Webster who's hatred for women was obvious. I looked him up in Maricopa Superior Family Court case info and it looks like his x wife has been making him her bitch for a long time now. I remember a small news blurb about officers at squaw peak having a little steroid issue during this time frame...hmmm.

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