Justin Lunsford Gets 23 Years in Prison For Fatally Stabbing Woman Before Setting House on Fire

A Cave Creek man who stabbed a woman to death before setting her house on fire has been sentenced to 23 years in prison, Maricopa County Superior Court officials announced this afternoon.

Justin Wade Lunsford pleaded guilty in to second-degree murder and arson of an occupied structure in the death of 29-year-old Mary Elisabeth Polgar in February. According to court officials, he was sentenced today to 18 years in prison for the murder and five years for the arson.

The sentences are to run consecutively.

On July 8, 2008, neighbors reported that Polgar's Cave Creek home was on fire.

Firefighters discovered Polgar's nude and nearly decapitated body in an unburned part of the house, with stab wounds on her head, neck, abdomen, back, and groin.

Lunsford became a suspect after it was reported that Polgar was last seen leaving a Cave Creek bar with him the night before her death.

During the investigation, a friend of Lunsford's told sheriff's deputies Lunsford told him that drug dealers had killed Polgar and that he was being framed for her murder.

The friend said Lunsford then doused Polgar's home and car with gasoline and set them on fire to destroy the evidence that would "frame" him.

Investigators located and arrested Lunsford using cell phone records nearly a week after Polgar's death.

*Matthew Hendley contributed to this post.

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James King
Contact: James King