Four decades after little Gary Ray Hose vanished, his brothers are certain he was murdered by their mother in 1974 and buried on a piece of land in Pinal County.
Following two unsuccessful searches, Guy Hose, now 50, says detectives from the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office have given up on finding the remains of his missing kid brother.
"The sheriff's department has already told us that Gary is not a priority — they got other cases that are more important and more current," Guy says. "My brother has been laying dead out in the desert for almost 43 years now. When is he going to get justice?"
Growing up in a tiny home in north Phoenix in the 1970s, Guy says, he and his brothers were abused by their mother and stepfather, Charlene and Walter Hose. It was the twins, Gary and Jerry, who faced the most horrific beatings, Guy recalls.
"Our stepdad was abusive in the extent he went a little crazy with the belt. But it was our mother who was responsible for the broken bones, beatings, the hospitalization, and the internal bleeding," Guy alleges. "I was beat, but I got a fraction of what the twins got. It was horrific what the twins went through."
Guy says Jerry was the more passive of the twins, but Gary was defiant. Often, he was locked in a closet. One night in April 1974, when he was 6 or 7, he ran away and the police brought him back home.
Guy's last memory of his brother was seeing him that night in the living room with their parents.
"The night he went missing, in the middle of the night, I heard voices in the living room that woke me up," says Guy, who was 8 years old when Gary disappeared. "My brother was standing by my mom and he was bruised from head to toe and bleeding."
Guy never saw Gary Hose again.
Days after the boy disappeared, the family moved out of their home near Cave Creek and Greenway roads in the middle of the night. For the next year, home was a trailer located on a three-acre desert parcel on North Maple Street, just outside Maricopa.
"They bought that property, and we moved onto it literally within days after Gary came up missing," Guy recalls. "We lived there for about a year and moved away. Neither Walter or Charlene have stepped foot on the property since."
For years, Guy believed Gary had "got lucky" and had been sent to live with a family in Texas, who later adopted him.
Meanwhile, the Hoses moved to Idaho, where Charlene reportedly continued to beat her children and was eventually arrested for child abuse. Gary's twin, Jerry, was eventually removed from the home by child-protective services and adopted by another family at age 14, having suffered brain damage from years of beatings.
Inexplicably, Guy and his youngest brother remained in the care of Walter and Charlene.
Years passed, and Guy grew up and became estranged from his family, cutting off communication with his parents.
Then, Jerry Hose came forward with a disturbing story, saying his brother had been brutally murdered the night he ran away and the police brought him back.
Jerry Hose worked with a private investigator and producers from The Crusaders, a short-lived syndicated TV news-magazine series. An episode of the show that aired in 1994 contained a segment featuring Jerry, in which reporter William La Jeunesse unraveled the history of the Hose boys' brutal abuse but uncovered no trace of Gary.
One scene showed Jerry presenting the evidence they'd gathered to Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who promised to devote resources to the case.
"You deserve to know the truth," Arpaio told Jerry as the cameras rolled. "We'll do everything. I'll assign some detectives to the case."
A missing-persons report was filed. But Walter and Charlene Hose hired an attorney and were never questioned by police.
For the next 20 years, the search went nowhere.
"Not much was done," says Michael Toth, a private investigator hired by the Hose family. "And all these years passed as the case sat growing colder. The investigators did the absolute minimum of what they needed to do."
Meanwhile, the mystery of what happened to his little brother haunted Guy Hose. Frustrated by the lack of law-enforcement interest, he and Jerry teamed up, spending thousands, even consulting a psychic.
Toth, whom the brothers hired last year, proved what Guy had come to suspect: that Gary never had been adopted.
Guy was convinced that Jerry's theory was true: that their mother had murdered Gary and, with the help of their stepfather, concealed the crime.
"They beat him and killed him and dumped him in the desert," Guy says.
Late last year, the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office got a tip that Gary's body was buried in the backyard of the north Phoenix home where the family lived in 1974, possibly encased in concrete. Police searched the property in November, using ground-penetrating radar, shovels, and cadaver dogs.
They found nothing.
"We have a reliable tip that has something to do with the investigation," Arpaio told reporters on the day of the search. "You can't let up. You can't let up because of the victims. The family would like to have some type of closure one way or the other, and it's sad."
When the search came up empty, Guy says, his focus turned to the vacant parcel in the desert near Maricopa. He says he offered to purchase the property from his parents, but Charlene and Walter turned him down.
"She said, 'Me and your dad made a pact never to sell the property as long as one of us is alive,'" Guy says.
Walter died last year. Charlene, who has dementia and Parkinson's disease, was moved to a nursing home in Oregon. During a lucid moment, Guy says, she admitted to one of her children that Gary was buried on the Maple Street land.
Based on that information, detectives obtained a search warrant for the property.
"A general search of the property was performed, also cadaver dogs were brought in to assist in the search but no evidence was located," Maricopa County Sheriff's Office public information director Chris Hegstrom tells New Times.
Dissatisfied with the sheriff's findings, Guy returned with a backhoe to dig up the property on his own.
He says that hours after he began digging up the septic tank, Kristina Hiers, the lead detective on the case, arrived and threatened to have him arrested for trespassing.
Hiers did not respond to New Times' request for comment, but Hegstrom confirms that Guy was asked to leave the property.
"The owner of the property [Charlene Hose] did not want other members from the family on the property," Hegstrom says. "Guy Hose had been advised multiple times by a MCSO detective and prior to the search warrant that he could not go onto the property or he would be trespassing."
Hegstrom adds that the department conducted a thorough search, and no human remains were found. "Investigators continue to investigate leads into the disappearance of Gary Hose," he says.
"If they aren't going to do anything about it, why are they trying to stop us from searching for him?" Guy Hose counters. "My brother is not a piece of trash that should have been discarded in the desert. He deserves to be found."
Michael Toth, the family's private investigator, believes the lack of interest on the part of the sheriff's office boils down to money.
"They're not going to spend any more money searching for Gary. There is three acres of desert out there on that property and they only searched a sliver of it," says Toth, who has nearly two decades of law-enforcement experience. "Expense shouldn't matter in this case. There's a little boy who has been lost for 40 years. We need to find him."
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Because Charlene Hose is in the late stages of Alzheimer's disease, Guy worries that she'll die without revealing what happened to Gary.
Charlene Hose's conservator, Jacki Harris, has not returned New Times' calls requesting comment.
Meanwhile, Guy remains frustrated.
"The sheriff's office is purposely putting this off. We believe they are just waiting for Charlene to die so they can put the case back on the shelf again and forget about it," he says. "We are pretty much out of hope right now."