The Tempe Police Department is taking action to combat human and sexual trafficking of children and adults, as well as to support victims who require legal assistance. This initiative has been made possible by a grant of at least $350 thousand dollars awarded by the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs. The department has reported 52 arrests related to sex trafficking in the past year, emphasizing the vulnerability of those without a home. The funds have been used to hire a new detective to proactively identify potential victims of human trafficking in Tempe and surrounding areas.
In addition to law enforcement efforts, Care 7, a specialized team to house vulnerable people, will be working alongside the Tempe police. A social worker will also be hired to help with legal procedures for undocumented people. Care 7 provides emergency shelter, food, and clothes, and helps victims navigate the criminal justice system at no cost. Victims of human trafficking can report cases to Care 7 by calling 480-350-8004 or to the Tempe police at 1-877-4AZ-TIPS.
In other news, Katie Luna Hernandez, 24, of Tucson, was arrested in April 2023 on child abuse charges after authorities found one of her daughters, only 4 years old, wandering alone through the streets of the city. Upon searching her home, the remains of another of her children were found hidden on the property, as well as two other minors in abandoned conditions. The woman pleaded not guilty and the case remains in court.
A subject identified as Jacob De Zeeuw, 27, shot and killed his 4-month pregnant wife Sarah Scott, 37, as well as his son Jacob De Zeeuw Jr, 6 years old, before taking his own life last March, in a house located in Phoenix. The reasons that led De Zeeuw to commit this murder-suicide are unknown.
Lauren Heike, 29, was found dead on the afternoon of April 28, near a path called Reach 11, near Mayo Boulevard and Scottsdale Road. The young woman’s body had multiple traumas and at least 15 stab wounds, mainly on the back, hands, and arms. Days after the crime, Zion William Teasley, 22, was arrested as responsible for the crime. The suspect awaits sentencing.
Arturo García, 49, died at the hands of his son Ulises Alexander García-García, 22, on the afternoon of May 16 in Phoenix. Court documents revealed that on the day of the incident, Ulysses had first argued and assaulted his wife; He later had a fight with his father so he decided to stab him at least 10 times. Ulises Alexander suffers from schizophrenia and refused to receive treatment. He is awaiting sentencing.
A man identified as Kevin Holmberg, 41, shot and killed his pregnant wife Katherine Holmberg, 41, in a housing complex located in Chandler on May 31. Apparently Kevin arrived drunk during the early hours of the morning and after arguing with his wife decided to murder her. When the authorities arrived, the man refused to surrender and took his own life in front of the officers.
Jordin Miranda Castillo, 20, died at the hands of her ex-boyfriend Ruben Xavier Rocha, 22, on June 4 in Phoenix. Rocha apparently broke into Castillo’s apartment and started shooting at him after a dispute on social media. He also managed to wound two other people and then fled. Hours after the crime, he surrendered to the police and it was learned that the victim had a restraining order against him for domestic violence.
The body of Bernardo Pantaleón, 30, was found mutilated last November 26 in a Phoenix park. After an investigation, four young people were arrested, who later confessed to the crime. Authorities believe it was related to gangs, but family and friends of the victim believe it was a hate crime, since Bernardo was a member of the LGBTQ community. Investigations continue while the suspects remain behind bars waiting to learn their fate.
Bryan Fitz, 53, murdered his wife, Sage Fitz, 49, another man identified as Carmen Buscemi, 62, as well as his son Baynen Fitz, 12, and the family pet, before taking his own life on December 19 in Phoenix. According to authorities, the motive appears to be a marital dispute, in another case of domestic violence that shocked the Valley area.
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World, Human Interest, Local