Sixth Suspect Arrested in Connection With Paradise Valley Murders; County Attorney Defends Release Of Alleged Killer
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery announced this afternoon that a sixth suspect has been arrested in connection to the murders of a Paradise Valley couple found bound and burned in their home last week.
Additionally, Montgomery defends releasing Michael Crane from custody after he'd been arrested for unrelated crimes just weeks before he allegedly murdered Glenna and Lawrence Shapiro.
Click here to get the details of the murders.
"We did not have enough evidence to to meet our standard on a reasonable likelihood of conviction," Montgomery says of releasing Crane.
Crane was arrested on December 6, and booked into jail on eight felonies, including dangerous drug possession, possession of stolen property, and possession of a weapon by a prohibited possessor.
The December 6, arrest occurred after Crane's grandmother called Phoenix police to have them get Crane and his cronies to move out of a home she owns in the 2500 block of Larkspur Drive in north Phoenix.
Montgomery says when police arrived at the home, Crane met them outside and told them there were other people in the house.
Inside the home, police found baggies of crystal meth, heroin, and marijuana. Additionally, they found a stolen motorcycle and a firearm, which Crane, as a convicted felon, is not allowed to possess.
Sound like a slam-dunk case? Not quite.
Montgomery says in order to convict Crane on any of the possession charges, the prosecutor would have to prove that the drugs, weapons, and stolen property belonged to him. Because there were four other people living in the house (two females and two males), a defense attorney could argue that the contraband belonged to someone else.
Montgomery also says that some of the other people in the home made conflicting statements about who owned what.
It's been suggested that Crane was on probation at the time of the December 6 arrest, so he could have been held on a probation violation. That, however, is false -- Montgomery says Crane's probation ended about two weeks prior to the arrest.
Montgomery says he supports the prosecutor's decision to cut Crane loose in December, saying "I would have done the exact same thing" because of the lack of concrete evidence.
Crane was in jail for about six days before he was released. About six weeks later, he allegedly murdered the Shapiros and stole some of their things, including iPads and prescription drugs the couple had.
"It's a heartbreaking scenario. And a frustrating one," Montgomery says.
Crane and his cohorts, Shawn Nicloy, Brittnay Beinhauer, Kelly Steward, and Danielle Rossman, have also been linked to the murder of Bruce Gaudet, a Phoenix cigar salesman, whose bullet-riddled body was found in his burned down home just days before the Shapiros were murdered.
Montgomery says evidence suggests that at least one of the suspects was in Gaudet's home.
Despite the apparent link, nobody's been charged with Gaudet's murder...yet.
As for the sixth suspect, Montgomery could only provide limited information because the suspect is still being interviewed by detectives. He says, however, that he believes all suspects in the case are now in custody.
The roles of each suspect in the thefts and murders are unclear. However, Crane is the only suspect currently charged with murder.
More information is expected to be made available next week.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Phoenix New Times' biggest stories.