A Tempe missing-person case has turned into a homicide case, as the co-owner of an auto-body repair shop is accused of killing his business partner, although the man's body has not been found.
Chad Norris, 33, was arrested on a second-degree murder charge in the presumed death of 45-year-old Jason Johnson, and Norris' wife has also been arrested for allegedly helping cover up the evidence.
Tempe police put out a missing-person alert on Tuesday, after Johnson didn't show up to work on Monday, and had missed several appointments with friends and family over the weekend.
Police say Chad and Tamara Norris were arrested the next day.
According to Tempe police, investigators started questioning employees at the Tempe location of Johnson and Norris' business, Scottsdale Auto Collision Center, near Priest Drive and Elliot Road.
Police learned that Norris and Johnson had been in an argument the last time Johnson was seen, which was September 14.
According to court documents obtained by New Times, nobody at the shop knew what the argument was about, but Johnson was known to get upset about the progress of the shop's renovation, which had been going on for three months.
When the last employees left the shop, they noticed Johnson's and Norris' cars were still there.
After Johnson was reported missing by his family on Monday, police went to ask the Norrises about it. Both refused to answer questions, and invoked their right to an attorney, according to the documents.
After it was discovered that Johnson's car was still at the Tempe shop, and the last cellphone signal on his phone was at the shop the night of his argument with Norris, police got a search warrant on Tuesday for his car and the shop.
According to the court documents, police found evidence of gunshots, apparent blood, and apparent attempts to conceal that evidence. Police also found a door that went to an auto trailer, which matched a trailer owned by Norris.
Earlier that day, police had been conducting surveillance on Norris. According to the documents, Norris went to the shop around 6 a.m., and by 10 a.m., he was loading between seven and nine large garbage bags into the back of his SUV. Norris' wife met up with him at the shop at this time, and they both went back to their home, where Norris attached the above-mentioned trailer to his SUV.
The couple made several stops around Phoenix and Tempe over the next few hours, before Norris abandoned the trailer in a Phoenix parking lot later that afternoon.
Cadaver dogs sniffed out several cars in the parking lot, and alerted police to a hit only on the trailer. After obtaining a search warrant for the trailer, police found a ton of apparent evidence in there -- multiple trails of blood, a plastic glove, evidence of a bullet striking the trailer, a shell casing Johnson's driver's license, and a piece of paper with Johnson's name and address on it, but no body.
Police then served a search warrant at Norris' house where a gun was recovered that matched the caliber of the bullet casing found in the trailer.
On Wednesday, police found out Norris' wife had made multiple trips to her mother's apartment, and her mother told police that Tamara Norris said she "did something bad," the documents state.
Tempe police say investigators believe Chad Norris killed Johnson, and disposed of his body, although his body hasn't been recovered. Norris was booked into jail on a second-degree murder charge, and his wife is charged with hindering prosecution. Norris' bond was set at $350,000, and his wife's was set at $15,000.
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