Longform

Chris Simcox's Life Arc Mirrors the Nativist Movement's Demise

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Whether or not he beats the rap he currently faces — a plea deal is on the table — the arc of Simcox's rise and fall mirrors the wax and wane of the anti-immigration movement he embraced.


At Villa Salerno apartments in late afternoon to early evening, children's voices greet visitors around nearly every corner.

Most of the boys and girls riding scooters or bikes, or playing on the well-manicured lawns of the complex, are South Asian. Some of the women watching over them wear saris. Around dinner time, the air is tinged with the aroma of curry.

Anglos are a distinct minority in this ethnic enclave near Tatum Boulevard and Bell Road, close to the border of Phoenix and Scottsdale. The residents decidedly are upper middle class, and there are plenty of BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes in the parking lot.

The back patio of a ground-floor apartment where Simcox lived at the time of his arrest looks out onto a gazebo and a swath of green lawn. Within eyesight is a jungle gym.

Simcox introduced himself as "Chris" to his neighbors and never said exactly what he did for a living, though he sometimes left the impression that he worked for a branch of government, according to one resident.

In fact, he worked at a Scottsdale company called iMemories, about a 10-minute drive from his apartment. The business converts home movies and photos into a digital format for customers and is affiliated with Arizona Treasurer Doug Ducey, a conservative Republican.

Considering the legal situation he finds himself in, Simcox's employment at iMemories could've been a cause for concern because family videos and photos sometimes depict children in various states of undress.

Kristen Beckman, vice president of human resources for the company, claims Simcox did not have access to such "customer assets," but she would not say how long he worked at iMemories or what exactly he did. She only disclosed that he was an "hourly employee" terminated June 5, two weeks before Phoenix police arrested him.

The company's past press releases mentioned Ducey as its "lead investor," and Ducey still is listed on the Arizona Corporation Commission's website as iMemories' board chairman, but Beckman told New Times that Ducey "stepped down from that responsibility in 2012."

Asked whether Ducey, who has formed an exploratory committee for a 2014 gubernatorial run, knew that Simcox worked for the company, Beckman's answer via e-mail was indirect.

"As with most companies," she wrote, "our board members focus on the broad strategic direction of the company and are not involved in daily operations nor personnel decisions regarding hourly employees."

Alena's order of protection against Simcox remains in place. Despite having violated that order more than once, Simcox was granted visitation rights and saw the children at least twice a week and every other weekend.

He told neighbors that he home-schooled the girls, and paperwork from Simcox's ongoing family court case with Alena suggests that the court was aware of this.

Their six-year marriage officially was over by April 2011, but issues involving custody and child support continued: Simcox owed Alena nearly $9,000 in support at one point.

Though he denied having a problem with alcohol, the court ordered him to attend 30 sessions of Alcoholics Anonymous, and he was forced to undergo counseling for domestic violence as well.

Notes from a therapist who treated Simcox in 2011 were part of the family court record. Simcox had acknowledged to the therapist problems caused by his being 20 years older than Alena.

He said he still loved Alena, despite what he termed "false allegations" of domestic violence, and told the therapist he "needed to have a family."

But in Alena's 2010 police report documenting allegations that stretched back to the previous year, she told Phoenix cops that Simcox drank heavily and often turned violent when drunk.

During one drinking session after copious amounts of Johnnie Walker, he called his family "his albatross," according to Alena, and made wild accusations that she was having an affair with his son by a previous marriage.

She told police that Simcox gave her a black eye and punched the walls of their home. She showed them fist holes made by his fists and provided a photo of herself with a black eye.

He repeatedly pointed his handgun at her, she said, at one point telling her while laughing that he was going to "love killing her."

In late August 2009, Alena said, he removed a .45-caliber revolver (which he called his "Dirty Harry" gun) from its safe and tried to hand it to her, saying, according to the police report, "he wanted Alena to shoot him in the head."

When she refused to take the firearm, the report states, "Chris became angry and threatened to shoot his entire family and any responding police officers."

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons