MORE

Crips In the Courthouse

Cheryl Leon wants justice in the murder of her son, Michael LeMay.
Irvin Serrano

Phyllis Hansen-Day, the chief clerk of the Maryvale Justice Court, had strong ties to one of the Valley's most lethal street gangs. The questions now facing investigators: How much did she help that gang as chief clerk? And how much did she really know about the murder in her home?

The search for answers in the case begins in a stark, fading tract of small ranch-style homes near 67th Avenue and Indian School Road.

Phyllis Hansen-Day's doorbell rang around 9:30 p.m. on the evening of November 17, 2000.

It was late, but Phyllis had gotten used to late visitors. Her husband's pot- and meth-smoking buddies could show up at any hour of the night.

A young black man in gangbanger garb was at the door. It was her husband's friend Ruben Johnson.

Phyllis knew Ruben was a member of the Lindo Park Crips, one of Phoenix's most violent street gangs, a gang credited with at least five assassination attempts on Phoenix police officers.

And she knew Fred and Ruben were doing more than smoking drugs together. Phyllis wasn't naive. After all, she was chief clerk of the Maryvale Justice Court, one of the Valley's busiest lower courts.

As chief clerk, she handled all the paperwork for thousands of traffic violations and misdemeanors, as well as hundreds of preliminary hearings in felony cases. Many criminal cases and search warrants involving Lindo Park Crips passed through her hands.

But Ruben was such a nice guy. He could "charm the skin off of a snake," she would say of him later.

This night, Ruben was excited and agitated. He had a secret to tell.

But Phyllis' neighbor, 20-year-old Michael LeMay, was also in the house. A slow-minded but friendly kid, he had been living with Phyllis and Fred for the last few months, since his mother kicked him out of the house across the street when she found out he was doing drugs. Phyllis took him in, and he was walking back and forth from the living room to the kitchen, the night that Ruben came to the house with a piece of paper and a secret.

Ruben held a small Arizona Republic article in his hand. He handed it to Phyllis.

The article detailed the murder two days earlier of a witness in an armed robbery case. One suspect surrendered at the scene. The other, described as a 5-foot, 10-inch man with a mustache and goatee, had escaped. The description fit Ruben like a glove.

Phyllis set the article down in the living room. Ruben and Phyllis walked hurriedly into her daughter's room and closed the door.

"I'm the suspect in the article," Ruben told Phyllis.

Ruben then related the details of the murder.

Ruben said he and a buddy had robbed a massage parlor down on Indian School Road two weeks before. His buddy had been caught. One of the people they robbed, Stephanie Smith, was going to testify in the case. So Ruben and a buddy, Quinndell Carter, found where Smith lived and went to kill her.

They busted into Smith's apartment. Ruben told Phyllis he found Smith in a back room of her apartment holding her 4-year-old son.

Ruben grabbed one of Phyllis' daughter's dolls and pointed a finger at a 45-degree angle to the doll's head to illustrate how he executed Stephanie Smith.

Then Ruben laughed. He claimed Smith tried to hold her son up to shield herself from the bullet.

But Ruben only killed Smith. He liked kids too much.

When Phyllis and Ruben emerged from the bedroom, Ruben walked to the living room to find the newspaper article.

Ruben looked cockeyed at the article. He believed it had been moved by Michael LeMay, the slow-witted neighbor kid, which also meant that LeMay might have read the article.

Ruben left the house.

Then Phyllis Hansen-Day, a lead administrator in Arizona's justice system, kept her mouth shut about the murder of the masseuse.

Four days later, the beaten and strangled body of Michael LeMay would be found floating in a canal only blocks from Phyllis Hansen-Day's home.

Four months later, Michael LeMay's family learned Michael had been killed in Phyllis' home.

Phyllis Hansen-Day, the chief administrator charged with upholding the law in a Phoenix court, was in the middle of two homicides involving one of the city's most notorious street gangs, the Lindo Park Crips.

The depth of the collusion between a court officer and murderous gangbangers is still being determined as part of investigations by both Phoenix police and the Maricopa County Attorney's Office.

According to county attorney sources, the probe includes allegations that:

• Hansen-Day stole more than $10,000 in collected court fines.  

• Hansen-Day discarded traffic and parking tickets, destroyed case files and sabotaged preliminary hearings in drug and burglary cases related to members and friends of the Lindo Park Crips.

• Hansen-Day alerted members and friends of the Lindo Park Crips to search warrants, presumably so that evidence might be hidden or destroyed.

The investigation questions the very integrity of gang prosecutions in a justice system and a West Valley neighborhood under siege by thugs willing to kill.

The court dismissed chief clerk Hansen-Day last March amid these allegations.

In an interview with New Times, Hansen-Day vehemently denies case tampering, theft or alerting criminal suspects regarding search warrants.

And yet, despite her protestations, she does not close the door on charges of wrongdoing.

She says that any help she lent to street gang members was out of fear for her life and the lives of her two daughters.

County attorney officials would not discuss their ongoing investigation of the court.

Hansen-Day admits a long and disturbing relationship with many of the most notorious members of the Maryvale-area Crips. That relationship, she said in court depositions, revolved around the methamphetamine manufacturing business of her husband, Fred Day.

Fred Day could not be reached for comment. He was recently released from jail stemming from a 2000 conviction for possession of dangerous drugs.

Perhaps the most stunning allegation regarding Hansen-Day's friendship with the Lindo Park Crips involves the murder of Michael LeMay.

Hansen-Day concedes to New Times that Michael was murdered in her house. But she said she didn't know Michael was murdered there until three months later, when police, on an anonymous tip, came to her house searching for evidence.

Hansen-Day says she doesn't know who provided the tip.

It was Jo Dempster, a former Justice Court security guard and one of Hansen-Day's best friends.

Hansen-Day admits to New Times that she confided in Dempster about events the night Michael LeMay was murder.

"There comes a time when you've got to tell someone or you'll blow up," Hansen-Day says.

"But I don't remember what I told her."

Dempster says her friend told her a story very different from the one Hansen-Day told police and New Times.

Indeed, in Hansen-Day's version to the authorities and to this newspaper, she is a scared and ignorant victim.

In Dempster's version, Hansen-Day is an accomplice to murder. And Dempster, who has also told her story to police and county attorney investigators, says she's willing to give sworn testimony to what she says she heard.

Phoenix police refused to discuss the investigation of the death of Michael LeMay.

"We don't name prime suspects," says Sergeant Randy Force, public information officer for the Phoenix Police Department.

"All I can says is that we have not eliminated anyone from suspicion in that case, and that includes Ruben Johnson."

The mother of the victim, however, told New Times that police informed her they would only charge Ruben for murder in Michael's case if Ruben was not given a death sentence for the earlier murder of the witness in the massage parlor robbery.

County attorney officials would not discuss the case.

In other words, the authorities want Ruben Johnson behind bars, but they won't pursue a second, costly prosecution if they succeed in securing the most severe punishment for him.

Michael's mother cannot accept that, especially considering the appearance of a wider conspiracy surrounding the death of her son.

"I want justice brought to everyone involved in my son's murder," she says.


Phyllis Hansen-Day and Fred Day had known each other since the early 1980s.

They began living together in December of 1996, then were married the next year.

Soon after they were married, Phyllis said in a July deposition, she began to realize Fred was smoking meth.

By late 1999, she said, she realized Fred was selling the drug.

In June of 2000, she said in her deposition, she discovered Fred was manufacturing the drug in the shed behind their house.

"When did you find out about that?" she was asked about the meth lab during her deposition.

"One night when I went out there to talk to him and found him out there doing it."

By that time, she had been chief clerk of the Maryvale Justice Court for nearly a year. And Fred was already on probation for earlier offenses.

Interestingly, in a recent interview with New Times, Hansen-Day recanted much of what she said in her sworn deposition about Fred's drug use.

"Fred gets mad when I say that he was involved in drugs," Phyllis tells New Times. "And he has got a point. I never saw him do that. I never actually witnessed it. I assumed it."  

In her deposition, Hansen-Day admits to keeping quiet about Fred's drug involvement, all of which were violations of his probation. She says she loved Fred too much. And she claims she has a character flaw that has devastated her life:

"I see that everyone has some good in them," she says. "And I keep hoping that this good is going to come out. And I thought that about Fred for a long, long time."

She thought that about Ruben, too, she says.

Robert Storrs, Ruben Johnson's attorney, cross-examined Hansen-Day during her deposition:

"Now, you indicated that Ruben asked you to sometimes check information in regard to people and whether or not there were warrants and things like that?" Storrs asked.

"Correct."

"Charges filed, correct? Ruben wasn't the only person you did that for?"

"No he wasn't."

Ruben also had given Phyllis a list of names that he wanted Phyllis to check for outstanding warrants.

Phyllis said in her deposition:

"There was a list of names that Ruben had given me. Along with the names, there was social security numbers, in some cases dates of birth, and he had wanted me to look these names up to see if they had any outstanding warrants or if their names were clean so that if he was ever stopped by an officer, he could give those names."

Hansen-Day claims, though, that she never gave information to known gang members that wasn't already public information.

Dempster says that is a lie.

"I watched her do it," she says.

Despite Hansen-Day's characterization of what she released, most of the information requested by the gangsters was highly confidential.

And regardless of what type of knowledge was passed, a court officer passing along information, even "public" information, to gangbangers hardly inspires confidence in her story.

Nor do other aspects of her life.

On July 18, 2000, Fred was driving with Ruben in Maryvale when they were pulled over by police. Police found a gun under Fred's seat and a gun under Ruben's seat. They also found meth and a large amount of cash.

Phyllis said in her deposition that she was the one who placed the gun under Fred's seat, so he would have protection against a man she knew wanted to kill him.

"And why did you put it there?" Storrs asked.

"Because we were going out with the girls," Phyllis responded. "And Andy, the person who had been threatening him, had been seen in the neighborhood that evening."

Phyllis and Fred met Ruben Johnson in 1998.

According to Phyllis, Fred and Ruben became fast pot-smoking buddies. She says they would spend hours together in the shed.

As time went on, more of Ruben's friends would come over. Many of those friends were known members of the Lindo Park Crips, one of the Valley's most violent street gangs.

Ruben Johnson will not speak about the case, his attorney says.

Regardless of his gang involvement, Phyllis said she also liked Ruben. He was charming, funny and good with her two daughters.

Phyllis often would have Ruben over for dinner.

"He was nice to my children," Phyllis says. "He'd tell my children they needed to respect their mother. I'd look at this guy and say, 'Wow, look at this guy, he's helping me teach my children the right things.'

"I didn't know he had such a dark side."

On November 7, 2000, 15 days before Michael LeMay's murder, Ruben and a friend, Jarvis Ross, decided to rob a seedy little massage parlor along Indian School Road near 11th Street.

Ross pointed a chrome revolver at two employees, Russell Biondo and Stephanie Ann Smith. Smith's cell phone was taken, along with $7. Biondo's pager and wallet also were taken.

Ross and Johnson ran. Police arrived. They searched the area and captured Ross. Biondo and Smith identified Ross as one of the robbers.

Smith agreed to be a witness in the case.

Eight days later, Ruben Johnson and a friend, Quinndell Carter, went to silence that witness.

On November 15, about 1 a.m., Carter and Johnson jumped the fence behind the apartment where Smith lived with her two small children.

Smith's dog began barking.

Michael Solo, a friend of Smith's, went out into the yard to investigate. Johnson confronted Solo at gunpoint.

"We're not here for you," he allegedly said. "We're here for the bitch."

Solo said Smith and her children were inside. Solo was then told to leave the apartment immediately. He rushed back into the apartment and out the front door.  

Ruben Johnson searched the apartment. He found Smith in a bedroom reading a book to her 4-year-old son, Jordan.

The toddler later told police that as his mother held him, a black man wearing black jeans, a white shirt and a white hat came into his room and shot his mother in the head.

Somebody had seen Carter and Johnson enter the apartment. They called 911.

As police arrived, they heard a gunshot. They saw Carter jump the back fence and run. Police pursued Carter and captured him. Carter's .357 Magnum had not been fired.

The shooter had gotten away. And Carter wasn't talking.


Two days later, around 10 p.m., Ruben came to Phyllis' house with the newspaper article.

Her daughters were away. The only other person in the house was Michael LeMay.

Phyllis read the small Arizona Republic article describing the murder of Stephanie Smith and the manhunt for the killer.

Ruben said he was the unnamed suspect, Phyllis says.

Phyllis says she was shocked by this admission.

Ruben then described running from the scene and calling his girlfriend for a ride.

Ruben and Phyllis walked back into the living room after Ruben finished his story. There, Phyllis said in her deposition, Ruben saw that the newspaper article had been moved.

"He was upset because he thought that Michael had read the article," she said in her deposition.

Later, Phyllis talked to Fred, who was in jail for a probation violation on his earlier drug charges. In her deposition, Phyllis claimed Fred "expressed concern for Michael's safety."

That statement, and many others she has made in the last year, appear to badly contradict statements she made both to her courthouse friend, Jo Dempster, and to New Times.


Cheryl Leon and her son Michael LeMay had lived on Britton Street for 16 years. Michael attended elementary school, junior high and high school in the neighborhood.

"And then he died in this neighborhood," Cheryl says, holding back tears during an interview at her new home in Peoria.

Michael was not a good student because of his learning disability, his mother says, and he had a problem of falling in with bad kids and then doing what they asked him to do.

"He was kind of slow and he tended to be a follower," she says. "But he was a sweet kid. He meant well. He just kept getting wrapped up with the wrong people."

Phyllis and Fred moved into the house across the street five years ago. When Michael was 17, he began doing odd jobs for Fred and Phyllis.

"She'd have him mow the lawns," Cheryl says. "She said she was trying to get him work, trying to get him on the right track."

Michael began smoking "a lot of pot," his mom says. Back in the summer of 2000, his brother, Joey, discovered drug pipes in his room.

Cheryl kicked Michael out of her house. He began living with Phyllis and Fred.

"I guess I should have suspected something," Cheryl says.

Cheryl last saw Michael standing in Fred and Phyllis' yard as she headed off to work on November 21.

By the next afternoon, she was starting to get concerned that she hadn't seen him.

That evening, police tracked Cheryl down at Good Samaritan Hospital, where she works as a nurse. They took her into a small room and explained that her son was dead.

"It just felt so strange and awful," she says. "It's like something just leaves your body. I just wanted to die."

A morning walker discovered Michael's body undulating face down in a canal only blocks from his lifelong home in Maryvale.

Four round weightlifting weights were chained to Michael's waist. A three-quarter-inch-wide ligature mark, most likely from a belt, encircled his neck. His body was covered with cuts and contusions.

Medical examiners determined the 20-year-old had been tortured, then strangled to death and dumped in the canal. As part of the torture, someone bit a chunk of flesh from Michael's left shoulder.

Phoenix police divers pulled Michael's body from the canal. Police found Joey LeMay first, who identified that the body was Michael's. Joey and the officer met at Good Samaritan to break the news to his mother.

Once they returned home, Joey immediately went across the street to talk to Phyllis about his brother's death.

In an interview with New Times, Joey recounted the following conversation with his neighbor:

"Michael has been murdered," he said he told Phyllis.  

Joey says she reacted strangely, "sort of cold, like it didn't matter too much."

Joey asked Phyllis when she had last seen Michael.

She said, according to Joey, that she'd seen the victim the night before he was murdered.

She said she had kicked Michael out of the house because he had stolen money from her daughters' piggy bank.

Joey asked for Michael's clothes and other items. He and other family members wanted to look through Michael's possessions for clues.

"Four or five of us went over at different times," Joey says. "Each time, she'd open the door a little, come outside and close the door behind her.

"When she went to get Michael's bag, she shut the door behind her, came back out, shut the door behind her. It seemed suspicious at the time. She wouldn't let us in and she would only open the door a crack."

What was behind that door, and what Phyllis Hansen-Day knew at that moment, is the crossroads at which Hansen-Day's and Jo Dempster's stories head in vastly different directions.


This is the story Phyllis Hansen-Day tells of that night in an interview with New Times.

Her daughters had a change jar they used to save up money for Christmas gifts for friends and family.

Phyllis discovered Michael had taken $30 from the jar.

When she told her husband, who was in jail at the time, Fred became enraged over the petty larceny.

Fred asked Ruben to go "talk to Michael" about stealing the money, she says. (This version of Hansen-Day's story contradicts her sworn deposition in which she characterized her husband as being concerned for Michael's safety following Ruben's visit with the Arizona Republic article.)

In her recounting to the paper, Ruben came to Phyllis' house and told her that she and the children needed to leave the house for "two or three hours." Ruben said he needed to "have a talk with Michael."

"I just figured he might beat the dog snot out of him," she says now. "Well, Ruben's idea of talking to someone is to kill them."

Phyllis says she left with the children. When she returned three hours later, she says, she saw no evidence of the murder.

"The only thing that looked funky was the shower curtain was down in the bathroom and there was a wet spot in the hallway," she says. "But it was clean; it's not like you could see anything."

Phyllis says Ruben was still there when she put her daughters to bed. Ruben left, then she went to bed.

Phyllis' story to New Times does not account for the corpse.

She says she discovered Michael was dead when Michael's family told her the next evening.

She says she took Michael's possessions over to his mother's house "the next day or maybe a couple days later."

The victim's family contradicts Phyllis on this point.

Joey LeMay and Cheryl Leon say they retrieved Michael's possessions the night they discovered he was dead. They wanted to search his possessions for clues.

Phyllis says she didn't discover Michael had been murdered in her house until three months later, when police arrived at her door looking for evidence.

Police didn't find anything, Phyllis says.

After police left, Phyllis says she found a dark brown spot behind a credenza in a hallway. She moved the credenza and found what looked like splattered blood.

"Then I called police," she says. "I'm the one that called then" about the blood.

Phyllis says she stayed silent about Stephanie Smith's murder because she feared Ruben would kill her.

She says she regrets that decision.

"I should have called Silent Witness," she says. "You just don't realize how much I wish I had. I wish I had done so many things differently."

That was Hansen-Day's account when she spoke to New Times.

The authorities declined to reveal what she told them.


Jo Dempster, however, tells the newspaper that Phyllis Hansen-Day's role in the two homicides was much more complicit. Dempster makes this charge, she says, based on what Phyllis confided in her.

This is Dempster's story:

Phyllis and Jo Dempster had become close friends in their years working together at the Maryvale Justice Court.

Over time, Dempster says Phyllis began confiding in her about Phyllis and her husband's activities. Dempster says she became increasingly uneasy as Phyllis' stories became more sordid.

Sometime in early February, Phyllis approached Dempster at the court. "I've got to talk to you," Phyllis said.

Dempster says Phyllis then related this story about the night of Michael LeMay's murder:  

Phyllis discovered that Michael had stolen $30 from her daughters' change jar.

She called Fred. Fred was furious. He called Ruben.

Phyllis said Ruben was "pissed off." Ruben also might have been worried Michael had overheard their conversation about the murder of Stephanie Smith, Phyllis told Dempster.

Ruben came over to Phyllis' house. Michael was not there. Ruben called Michael on the phone and told him they had a drug delivery they needed him to make.

When Michael arrived, Ruben confronted him about the money, then began beating him.

"Phyllis said Ruben 'just went nuts on him,'" Dempster claims.

Phyllis' daughters then came home from school. Phyllis said Ruben told her to take the girls shopping for three hours.

When Phyllis returned, she found blood covering the bathroom, Dempster says she was told. Phyllis said Ruben had beaten Michael for a while, then took him into the bathroom and beat him with a flashlight and strangled him.

Phyllis Hansen-Day vehemently denies this version of the story.

Interestingly, though, Phyllis Hansen-Day tells New Times she can't remember exactly what she did tell Dempster.

"I just know I didn't tell her everything," Phyllis says.

Dempster says Phyllis admitted to helping destroy the evidence of Michael LeMay's murder.

Dempster says Phyllis told her the following:

Ruben took Phyllis to a back bedroom. Michael's bloody body was wrapped in a shower curtain on the bed.

Her daughters asked to see Michael, Phyllis allegedly told Dempster. Phyllis told the girls "Michael is very sick. He needs to be left alone."

Ruben wanted to wait until the middle of the night to dump the body, Phyllis allegedly told Dempster. Phyllis said that she went to her bedroom and Ruben went and took a nap next to Michael's body.

At 3 a.m., Ruben grabbed the body, a chain and some of Fred's weights, threw them in the trunk of Phyllis' car and drove to the Grand Canal.

Dempster says that, according to Phyllis, a friend of Ruben's videotaped part of the beating. Dempster also says she was told that Ruben made Michael write an apology letter to Fred for stealing the $30.

Phyllis allegedly told Dempster she worked through the next three nights remodeling the bathroom. "She said she even replaced the tile," Dempster says. Michael's blood had seeped onto the mattress, so Ruben had to get rid of the mattress.

"Phyllis complained about how expensive it was to replace the mattress," Dempster says.

Ruben Johnson's attorney, Robert Storrs, refused to discuss with New Times Johnson's alleged involvement in the murder. Storrs advised Johnson not to speak to New Times regarding the murder.

Phyllis also allegedly told Dempster she repainted the bathroom purple, which she had been told should hide bloodstains from the testing methods used by police.

Dempster says she alerted police after Phyllis told her the story.

Police went to Phyllis' house. They removed several items, including the shower curtain.

Dempster claims Phyllis came to her the next day frantic that the police had searched her house. But Phyllis seemed confident the police wouldn't find evidence, Dempster says.

"She laughed that they had taken her brand-new shower curtain," Dempster says.

Phyllis Hansen-Day denied every salient point of Dempster's story when she was confronted with the allegations. Again, though, she did not deny she confided in Dempster about Michael's murder.

"I don't know what I told her," Phyllis tells New Times.


Michael's murder seems to have ended Phyllis Hansen-Day's involvement with the Lindo Park Crips. She became a star witness in the murder trial of Ruben Johnson, who was convicted in early December.

Maricopa County Sheriff's Office staff intercepted jail letters in which Johnson gave friends a detailed description of Hansen-Day and her whereabouts.

Hansen-Day wore a bulletproof vest and was escorted by seven officers when she was deposed in the case last July.

But prior to the murder, she appeared to be deeply involved with the group, as well as with a wider drug and burglary ring.

Hansen-Day admitted to New Times that Ruben Johnson and his friends regularly called her at the Justice Court to check the status of cases. They also asked Hansen-Day to contact them if police had obtained a search warrant for their homes.

Such warnings would put lawmen in extreme danger from gangbangers who had repeatedly shot at police officers.

Hansen-Day says she never warned people that police were coming to search their homes.

Hansen-Day's denial, however, is hardly absolute. She concedes that Ruben Johnson's friends called her, that she accepted the calls and that she assured them that she would provide warnings of searches, which would allow evidence to be destroyed.  

But, she insists, she never followed through on her promises to release sensitive information to gangbangers.

"They would call and say, 'Hey, if there's a search warrant, could you tell me?'" Hansen-Day says. "I said, 'Sure.' But did I actually do it? No way."

Through his attorney, Johnson says he knew of cases in which Hansen-Day warned people that search warrants had been granted for their property. But he said he didn't remember specific cases.

"I was scared to death of these people. I just told them what they wanted to hear," Hansen-Day tells New Times.

She denies having any knowledge of money being stolen from the court. And she denies destroying case files related to members of a Maryvale-area burglary and drug ring.

"To my knowledge, nothing illegal happened in the Maryvale Justice Court," she says.

The County Attorney's Office is investigating these allegations.

A key witness, again, is Jo Dempster.

"I saw her destroy cases," Dempster says.

"Initial appearance paperwork would come in and Phyllis would say, 'Don't read it, don't stamp it in, just give it to me,'" Dempster says. "Then she'd take them into her office and we'd never see them again."

Dempster says she began compiling a list of case numbers of the cases that Hansen-Day would take. Dempster says she stashed that list in a coloring book in a file cabinet in the court building.

Dempster was transferred from the Maryvale Court last spring.

Last month, upon learning of Dempster's list, the county attorney's staff moved to secure the documents. A county attorney investigator set up a meeting with court staff. Three days later, the investigator visited the court and asked to look in the file cabinet.

It was empty.

While a court employee present during the search told the county investigator that there had been documents and children's books in the cabinet, the Justice Court's head of security had come and cleared out the filing cabinet prior to the appearance of the prosecutor's investigator.

Two weeks later, the materials removed from the cabinet were turned over to the county attorney's civil division by Justice Court Services, which oversees all Maricopa County courts. There was no list. There also were no coloring books.

The court's head of security did not return New Times calls for comment.

Now, county attorney investigators are sweeping county court records for signs of tampering with cases by Phyllis Hansen-Day.

"This is going to take some time to sort out," a deputy county attorney told New Times.

Phyllis Hansen-Day says she welcomes any investigations. She says an investigation will show she is the innocent victim she claims she is.

Phyllis says she has left Fred, who is again out of jail. She says she regrets ever marrying him.

"I have this flaw where I see that everyone has some good in them," Phyllis says. "I thought that about Fred for a long, long time. But my wake-up call has come."

Phyllis says she continues to fear for her life. To avoid attempts on her life, she says, she takes different routes to and from home, mixes up her schedule and often hides her car when visiting friends and family.

Last summer, she says, she ran into some friends of Ruben's at a shopping mall.

"I told my daughters they needed to head directly to the car, walk as quickly as they could and if they heard anything, loud noises, they were to immediately hit the ground.

"We live in constant fear," she says.

Dempster also lives in constant fear. She fears Phyllis and Fred will have her killed for speaking to investigators and New Times about Phyllis' actions.

"I have my 9mm ready if someone comes in the house," she says.

"But I had to talk," she says. "It's like she is getting away with helping murder this boy. Somebody has to stand up and say this is all very wrong."

Dempster and Michael LeMay's mother both say they're tired of waiting for justice.

"I just want the people involved in Michael's murder to pay for what they did to my son," Cheryl Leon says.

"All those years I tried to keep Michael safe," she says. "But I failed. I failed by letting him go over to the neighbor's."


Sponsor Content

Newsletters

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

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >