Justin Wade Lunsford
Justin Wade Lunsford

Cave Creek Man Pleads Guilty in Woman's Gruesome 2008 Death

A Cave Creek man accused of stabbing a woman to death and then setting fire to her house in July 2008 pleaded guilty to her murder Thursday.

Justin Wade Lunsford, 28, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and arson of an occupied structure in the death of 29-year-old Mary Elisabeth Polgar.

On July 8, 2008, neighbors reported that Polgar's Cave Creek home was on fire.

Firefighters discovered Polgar's nude and nearly decapitated body in an unburned part of the house, with stab wounds on her head, neck, abdomen, back, and groin.

Lunsford became a suspect after it was reported that Polgar was last seen leaving a Cave Creek bar with him the night before her death.

During the investigation, a friend of Lunsford told sheriff's deputies that Lunsford told him drug dealers had killed Polgar and he was being framed for her murder.

The friend said Lunsford then doused Polgar's home and car with gasoline and set them on fire to destroy the evidence that would "frame" him.

Investigators located and arrested Lunsford using cell phone records nearly a week after Polgar's death.

A Maricopa County Superior Court judge set Lunsford's sentencing for May 13.


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >