A suspicious package left at the Phoenix New Times' parking lot in downtown Phoenix on Friday morning contained a letter referring to a recent cover article about an emotionally-disturbed teenager accused in a homicide case, police said.
After a New Times employee found a large cardboard box in the lot at about 5:30 a.m., cops brought in an explosives-sniffing dog from the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Someone had wrapped the box with several fastened-together covers featuring the May 20 article "The Deepest Cut" by staff writer Miriam Wasser, an article about jailed juvenile homicide suspect Jessica Burlew.
"The dog didn't hit on the package," said Phoenix police Sergeant Vince Lewis said.
Police opened the box, topped with an envelope addressed to Wasser, to find burned ashes of what appeared to burned copies of the paper. The package was taken from New Times, 1201 East Jefferson Street, to a police facility.
Neither a report nor a copy of the letter that referred to the cover story were immediately available by Friday afternoon.
Lewis told us on Friday that he'd talked to the officer reviewing the incident, who said "there was no specific or credible threat" that could be used as the basis for a criminal charge. Police would log the incident "for documentation purposes," he added.
Burlew, 17, has been held under maximum lock-down at the Maricopa County Jail for the past 17 months, charged as an adult with second-degree murder in connection with the January 2014 death of 43-year-old Jason Ash.
As the article related, Burlew's mother, Tracey Woodside, said Ash and her daughter — who's shown signs of mental illness since kindergarten days — had been playing a "sex game." Ash's body was found inside Woodside's Glendale apartment on Burlew's bed, an extension cord wrapped around his neck, his pants undone and knife wounds covering his face and genital area.
Lewis suggests that members of the public refrain from responding to a published article in such a dramatic way.
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"I wouldn't advocate this type of activity," he said. "It takes up resources. It takes up time. It could incite fear."
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