Young Champions of America Fire That Killed Arsonist Spurs Two More Arrests


Police made two more arrests last night in the case of a fatal arson fire last month at a Phoenix business, Young Champions of America.

Josh Robinson, 28, a karate instructor at the company, was killed in the blaze that he helped start, police say. 

Jeffrey Otto, 19, and Moniza Murillo, age unavailable. were collared yesterday for their alleged involvement. Court records show that police are seeking a first-degree murder charge against young Otto [above], who lived with his father in Glendale until his arrest.

Another suspect, Jonathan Antonucci, 19, was arrested in June.

Image: Young Champions of America


The four conspired in mid-June to burn down the company's building at 5414 South 40th Street because of "pending embezzlement charges" against Antonucci, who had just been fired from Young Champions, says a police probable-cause statement. The other three still worked at the company during the incident. The group gathered at a Wal-Mart on June 14, where they bought and stole five-gallon gas cans.

Police say all four then hooked back up at the Young Champions building, Antonucci in his pickup truck and Otto driving his Mitsubishi Galant. They climbed onto the roof, broke in through a second-story window with the gas cans.

Murillo dropped off her can and went back out to Otto's car "after ignition" of the fire, court records state. She tried to call Otto on his cell phone but got no answer. Then Otto and Antonucci left the building, but without Robinson.

Investigators believe the gas fumes were so intense that Robinson exploded into flame when he tried to ignite the fire. His body was burned beyond recognition.

The building and its contents -- a fortune in sports equipment -- were a total loss.

Records indicate prosecutors will have plenty of surveillance footage from Wal-Mart and Young Champions to bolster their case against the three surviving suspects.


A message on the company's Web site includes a vow to rebuild:

We would like to thank everyone for your support during this challenging time.

Our staff has 100% resolve to rebuild and be stronger than ever!

All classes will continue as scheduled, however all phone support has been forwarded to our Kansas City Affiliate office.

Thank You

Kraig Hollingworth Assistant Director


UPDATE: Read our January 21, 2010, feature story about this crime.

UPDATE July 7 -- Murillo's jail mug shot:

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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.