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Gun violence in the US

Suspect in four Arizona slayings kills himself as police close in

The man, who was not identified, was suspected of the deaths of a forensic psychiatrist who assisted in high-profile murder cases, two paralegals and a counsellor

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2018, 2:30am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 June, 2018, 5:03am

A man suspected of four Phoenix-area slayings that happened over three days fatally shot himself Monday as police swarmed the hotel where he was staying, authorities in Arizona said.

The man, who was not identified, was suspected of the deaths of a forensic psychiatrist, two paralegals and a counsellor.

The raid came after authorities identified the fourth victim, but investigators did not immediately link that death to the other three.

The fourth victim, Marshall Levine, a 72-year-old marriage and divorce counsellor and life coach, was found shot inside an office building in Scottsdale soon after midnight Saturday, police said.

The Arizona Republic reported that Levine also worked as a hypnotherapist.

On Thursday, Dr. Steven Pitt, a prominent forensic psychiatrist who assisted in high-profile murder cases, including the JonBenet Ramsey mystery in Colorado and a notorious Phoenix serial killer investigation, was found dead near Scottsdale.

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Witnesses reported hearing a loud argument and gunfire outside Pitt’s office.

Police said the killings Friday of paralegals Veleria Sharp, 48, and Laura Anderson, 49, were related to Pitt’s shooting, but they were still trying to determine exactly what linked the three victims.

“We don’t know the relationships or the connections,” said Sergeant Ben Hoster.

How, or if, Levine’s death also had ties to the killings of the two women and Pitt was still being investigated, Scottsdale police told The Republic.

Phoenix police say Pitt’s killer was described as a bald man wearing a dark-coloured hat with a short brim. Investigators released a sketch of the suspect in the three killings.

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Sharp and Anderson were shot Friday inside a law office. Police say one of the women managed to walk to an intersection to seek help despite a gunshot wound to her head. She was taken to a hospital where she died.

Officers followed a blood trail back to the office and found the other woman. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Hoster said there was no indication that family members of the victims were in danger.

“We’re asking the public to remain vigilant and to call us if they notice anything out of the ordinary,” Hoster said.

Levine was killed in an office park that houses mostly therapists and counsellors.

A decade after the JonBenet Ramsey case, the 59-year-old Pitt helped Phoenix police in the Baseline Killer investigation as they sought a man who was later convicted of killing nine people.