PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — A 31-year-old man faces murder charges in the death of an Arizona couple found tied up and burned beyond recognition and four others have also been arrested in the case, police said Tuesday.
The bodies of Lawrence and Glenna Shapiro, well-to-do philanthropists in their 70s, were discovered last week in their stylish home in the affluent Phoenix suburb of Paradise Valley.
The murders were the first in the town since 2004 and have shaken neighbors, police and the town mayor. Until Tuesday, police had released few details about the bizarre crime, including whether the Shapiros were robbed or what they think the motive might have been.
Michael Lee Crane faces two murder charges, as well as kidnapping, armed robbery, arson and burglary charges, police said. The other four suspects – all from the Phoenix area – were facing theft or trafficking in stolen property charges. Crane's city of residence was unknown.
Paradise Valley is home to some of the Phoenix area's poshest resorts and lushest golf courses, as well as the homes of celebrities and pro athletes like Muhammad Ali. And when tourists land in the area, they ooh and ah at the mountains that surround it.
Just behind the Shapiros' sprawling stucco home is a picture-perfect view of Camelback Mountain, a place popular among hikers.
"We've had a tough week in the sleepy town of Paradise Valley," said Mayor Scott LeMarr, who was a close friend of the Shapiros. "We've only had around 10 homicides in the last 35 or 40 years."
Police Chief John Bennett said a murder weapon and stolen property have been recovered. Investigators have also interviewed the suspects.
There was no evidence to indicate the Shapiros were specifically targeted, Bennett said.
Paradise Valley officers went to the Shapiros' home the morning of Jan. 30 after Phoenix police found their car on fire behind a strip mall about 20 miles away. When an officer arrived at the house, she saw smoke coming from inside.
Firefighters put out fires that had been set in two bedrooms, including the master bedroom, where the Shapiros' bodies were. Police have said the couple had to be positively identified using dental records.
The Shapiros started their own charitable organization in 2010 and have actively supported many local civic organizations and charities.
Lawrence Shapiro had a 45-year career as a gastroenterologist, and Glenna Shapiro was the former longtime executive director at the National Kidney Foundation of Arizona, according to a website set up by their three grown children.
The Shapiros actively supported many civic organizations and charities, including the Phoenix Symphony, the Arizona Opera, the Phoenix Art Museum and the kidney foundation.
Earlier Tuesday, family and friends gathered in a packed downtown Phoenix theater for a memorial service for the couple. Glenna's brother said he's read stories over the last week that have described the couple as wealthy.
"Those words are correct to an extent but they don't define them," Rob Jones said. "Perhaps they planned well for the future and they were philanthropists but most of all they were family... Love was Glenna and Larry's center."