Death Valley: Phoenix Apartment Manager Lays Trap for Troublemakers, Ends Up Dead

Some things are best left to others -- like trying to catch a criminal in the act.

Police don't know for sure what happened to Jose Favela-Lopez, a 52-year-old apartment manager found dead yesterday morning. However, police statements make it seem like Favela-Lopez fatally overestimated himself.

The manager of the apartments at 3200 N. 37th Street was last seen at about 1 a.m., right before he planned to stay in a vacant apartment to try to catch some vandals in the act, according to a short Arizona Republic write-up of the homicide case and a police news release (below). He'd been preparing the apartment to rent out, but it must have been tough to do when punks keep trashing the place.

Police received a call of "unknown trouble" at the apartment and found Favela-Lopez. It was obvious to cops he'd been murdered, but without a suspect in custody, police aren't releasing many details yet.

Text of news release follows:

July 30, 2009

Time: Approximately 1118 Hours Location: 3200 N. 37th Street Report #: 2009-91213316 Victim: Jose Favela-Lopez H/M 52-years-old

Suspect: UNKNOWN

On July 30, 2009, at about at about 11:18 a.m., the Phoenix Police Department received a call of "unknown trouble" at the apartments located at 3200 N. 37th Street. When they got there, they found Jose Favela-Lopez had been murdered inside one of the apartments. Mr. Favela-Lopez was the manager of the apartments and had been preparing the apartment he was found in for future tenants. In addition, he had been spending time in the apartment to prevent possible vandalism, which could occur because it was vacant. The cause of death is not being released.

The case is on-going and at this time, there is no suspect information. Investigators are asking for help from the community. If anyone saw or heard something or has any information about this incident, they are encouraged to call the Phoenix Police Department, Violent Crimes Bureau at (602) 262-6141 or "SILENT WITNESS" at (480) W-I-T-N-E-S-S. For Spanish, call (480) T-E-S-T-I-G-O.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.