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THE MACKING OF A MYSTERYGRAHAM COUNTY SHERIFF RICHARD MACK'S INVESTIGATORS MADE SO MANY MISTAKES THAT NO ONE MAY EVER KNOW HOW STEPHANIE PROFFITT DIED

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Most of the charges leveled during that time were dismissed in exchange for Goodrum's assistance to law enforcement authorities. Eventually, he became a confidential informant for the Graham County Attorney's Office, the Safford Police Department and the Phoenix Police Department. Goodrum declined to be interviewed for this story.

The other male corner of the love triangle was Robert Gonzales, a Mexican-born heavy-machinery mechanic for whom machismo has real meaning. His running battle with Goodrum eventually led to criminal charges against Gonzales.

And Stephanie was no angel herself. She was a confidential informant for the Department of Public Safety, a notorious snitch who would turn in her own mother and whichever lover she happened to be angry with. It was well known that Stephanie abused drugs, particularly crystal methamphetamine. Her promiscuity is documented; it was legendary.

Given the volatile nature of everyone involved, Stephanie's mother, Matlock, became increasingly distraught as Mack refused to intensify the search for her daughter in the weeks after she disappeared under such unusual circumstances.

Matlock had good reason to be concerned. Stephanie was Goodrum's third wife. The other failed marriages were interspersed with numerous arrests and serious criminal charges, including drug trafficking, possession of stolen property, assault, reckless endangerment and kidnaping.

But if Goodrum, the son of a former Arizona Department of Public Safety officer who later became principal of a nearby high school, knew how to get into trouble, he knew how to get out of it, as well. He simply offered his services to Graham County law enforcement agencies in exchange for having the charges dropped. In short, he became a snitch. And a darn good one at that.

"He maintained reliability and credibility with me," former Graham County Attorney's Office investigator Dave Boyd says.

Goodrum frequently worked on drug and stolen property cases, helping to send a number of people to jail, Boyd says.

While Goodrum was helping Boyd, he also was working for the Safford Police Department as a confidential informant, says the department's former narcotics officer, Kenny McKinney.

"He was a snitch for us, and he was a good one," McKinney says.
Goodrum acted as an informant in Graham County for several years. Then, he moved to Phoenix in the late 1980s. Boyd helped Goodrum land an informant position with the Phoenix Police Department.

In August 1988, he got into an altercation with two Phoenix police officers in front of the downtown police station. As the officers approached his truck, Goodrum tried to pull a loaded gun from a holster. The officers did not approve.

Goodrum was arrested on aggravated assault and reckless endangerment charges. He later pleaded guilty to two counts of felony endangerment. Letters of recommendation from Boyd and his parents helped persuade the court to place Goodrum on three years' probation.

Goodrum returned to Safford where he lived with a girlfriend, Regina Taylor, who was pregnant with his second child. She moved out suddenly in July 1989 after being treated at a Safford hospital for an assault.

In that attack, Goodrum is alleged to have choked her until she nearly passed out.

The emergency-room report on the incident recommended that Taylor "avoid contact with boyfriend to avoid further abuse." Soon after, Stephanie and Goodrum began dating. Once again, Goodrum's temper flared. On November 14, 1989, while still on probation for his felony conviction for assaulting two police officers, he allegedly beat Stephanie with a crowbar, Graham County Sheriff's Department records show.

He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon. Bond was set at $13,700, and Goodrum spent the next month in jail. During that time, he also admitted violating his probation by drinking and using drugs.

Stephanie dropped the assault charge in January 1990, after Goodrum agreed to go to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Globe. Four months later, on April 16, 1990, Stephanie married Goodrum in the Greenlee County Courthouse. Boyd attended the service as a witness.

The turbulent relationship continued after Stephanie and Goodrum were married. By early 1992, Stephanie had petitioned for divorce. She also had begun seeing Robert Gonzales.

Stephanie bounced back and forth between the men, which triggered hostilities. Each time she moved, she gave her new partner negative information about the other man. She also was acting as a snitch for DPS in Graham County, says former DPS officer Bill Mulleneaux, who now is in charge of security at Eastern Arizona College.

Mulleneaux signed a search warrant in May 1992 that led to a raid on Gonzales' trailer home in search of cocaine. The warrant was based on information from a confidential source. The search turned up nothing. Gonzales says he believes the informant was Stephanie.

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John Dougherty
Contact: John Dougherty