Thomas Wallace, 58, was arrested and held on a $1 million cash bond for suspicion of second-degree murder, concealing a dead body, theft of means of transportation, and trafficking in stolen property, Fox 10 Phoenix reported. A second suspect, Ramona Gonzalez, is in jail on suspicion of fraud and theft. She denies any involvement in the victim’s death.
The decomposing remains of the victim, an 80-year-old Air Force veteran and former roommate of Wallace, were found on November 1 after a welfare check on their home. The victim’s name has not been released yet, but authorities told Fox 10 that Gonzalez sometimes stayed at the victim’s home.
“She reportedly relapsed on illicit drugs, would pawn [the victim’s] possession, and routinely steal his vehicle,” court documents obtained by Fox 10 said.
Family members became concerned after they hadn’t heard from the victim in about a month, the documents said. The family “was concerned because [the victim] had diabetes and might have passed away in the residence,” the documents said.
When police arrived at the victim’s home, neighbors said they had not seen the victim in three to four weeks. Officers forced their way into the residence and found blood on the living room ceiling, as well as on several walls and furniture. They also noticed “a strong foul odor,” according to court documents. They found the victim’s body inside two black trash bags in a bedroom. The victim’s head was found atop a pile of linen. The Maricopa County medical examiner’s office will determine the exact cause of death.
The victim’s missing pickup truck was found near a motel where surveillance caught Gonzalez entering. They later discovered the room was rented to Wallace. The pair were taken into custody at the motel on November 3.
Wallace pawned some items on October 26, including a chainsaw, hedger, and camera. Investigators reviewed surveillance video showing Wallace and an unidentified woman pawning the items, which they sold for $50. Police were able to obtain the items Wallace pawned and found the victim’s business card inside the camera bag. Police wrote in court documents that “an odor of decomposition” came from the items. After the items were processed, crime scene personnel found what appeared to be bits of human flesh, torn ligaments, and other biological matter on the chainsaw.
Gonzalez told police she had broken into the victim’s home to retrieve some things she had left behind after she couldn’t get in contact with the victim. She said she and a friend found the body when they broke into the home. She also claimed to have a recording of Wallace discussing the murder.
A neighbor told KPTV that the victim was “a good neighbor” who helped others.
“It’s a sad thing to happen to him. He didn’t deserve that,” Ruby Lowry, the neighbor, told the outlet. “I hope they get what they deserve because he would help anybody. That’s probably why he had them over there.”