MARICOPA, Ariz. – Authorities released shocking details about the arrest connected to an Arizona couple that has been unaccounted for since June 22.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said Thursday that 38-year-old Jose Valenzuela acknowledged killing 44-year-old Michael Careccia and his 42-year-old wife, Tina.
He also said, without elaborating, that Valenzuela was on the list of suspects since day one.
Babeu said the victims and the suspect lived in the same neighborhood and appeared to be friendly. On the evening of Father's Day - June 21 - the couple invited Valenzuela over and, according to the suspect, the three started using methamphetamine until late that night.
At one point, the sheriff said, the three walked over to Valenzuela’s house, where a fight started that ended in the killings.
Babeu said Valenzuela was found with a .22 caliber revolver that authorities believe is the murder weapon.
The two bodies were recovered from Valenzuela's property, buried six feet deep in the sandy backyard.
Babeu said Valenzuela borrowed a backhoe from an unsuspecting acquaintance to hide the bodies on his property in Maricopa.
"Instead what he did was he built, not a makeshift grave, but an actual 6-foot grave," Babeu said. "He put these victims in that grave and buried them."
The grave was not noticeable initially because the suspect had piled other debris and materials on top of it, Babeu added.
Careccia, a former commercial pilot, and his wife Tina, an accountant, were reported missing the next day by the man’s teenage son. Since then authorities have gone door to door, launched air and ground searches, and used dogs to try to track their scent.
The couple's abandoned car was later found covered in dirt about a half-mile away from their home in Maricopa, about 35 miles south of Phoenix.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.
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