Pictured: Cleophus Cooksey Jr. after his December arrest.
Photo courtesy of Phoenix Police Department
Share Printer Friendly Version

Suspected serial killer linked to nine murders in three weeks


Tara Alatorre

PHOENIX –  A suspect has been linked to nine homicides, after Phoenix Police arrested Cleophus Cooksey Jr. in December for allegedly shooting and killing his mother and her husband. If he is convicted, it will make him one of the most prolific serial killers in the state’s history.

On Dec. 17, 2017 Phoenix Police responded to call of shots being fired on Highland Road near Central Avenue, when they arrived on scene they found Cooksey’s mother, Rene Cooksey, and stepfather, Edward Nunn, dead from gunshot wounds, according to police reports.

“Phoenix Police officers arrested Cooksey on scene and he’s been in jail since, but our detectives didn’t stop there,” said Phoenix Police Chief Jeri Williams in a press conference on January 18.

Investigators were able to quickly link the suspect to seven other homicides in the Valley by using new technology implemented as part of the National Crime Gun Intelligence Center. All of the homicides linked to Cooksey occurred in Phoenix, Avondale and Glendale between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Those tools allowed police to review ballistic information swiftly from one crime scene, and compare details from another crime scene, ultimately leading to the break in this case, Chief Williams said.

Cooksey is facing a total of nine counts of first-degree murders, theft of a firearm, robbery, sexual assault, and being a prohibited possessor, police said.

Arizona Republic reported that one of the victims was the brother of an ex-girlfriend, the others were meetings set up online or through texts; one meeting being described by police as an alleged drug deal.

The victims include:

  • Andrew Remillard, 27, and Parker Smith, 21, who were found dead on Nov. 27, 2017.
  • Salim Richards, 35, who was critically wounded on Dec. 2, 2017, and later died.
  • Jesus Bonifacio Real, 25, the brother of Cooksey’s ex-girlfriend was found dead on Dec. 11, 2017.
  • Latorrie Beckford, 29, was found with fatal gun wounds on Dec. 13, 2017.
  • Kristopher Comeron, 21, was discovered dead in a field with gunshot wounds on Dec. 16, 2017.
  • Maria Villanueva, 43, was found dead after allegedly being kidnapped from her car on Dec. 16, 2017.

These homicide cases are still open ongoing investigations and if anyone has additional information they are urged to call 480-WITNESS.