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Details emerge surrounding homicide of Casa Grande man
 jheadley  / 
 03.04.20

CASA GRANDE — A man whose body was found near Maricopa Feb. 27 was killed near Casa Grande — intentionally run over by two vehicles, according to investigators.

The body of Troy Beebe, 48, of Casa Grande was found about 9:30 a.m., in the Santa Cruz Wash off Anderson Road, just south of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway on the eastern edge of Maricopa. Pinal County Sheriff’s Office detectives found Beebe wearing only tennis shoes and his pants around his ankles.

Investigators believe Beebe was killed with a motor vehicle based on the condition of his remains.

Robin Franklin, 37, and John Radcliff, 36, were arrested on first-degree murder charges the following day, Feb. 28, in connection with Beebe’s death.

Both men are in custody at the Pinal County Adult Detention Center without the possibility of bond.

PCSO 

Robin Franklin

PCSO 

John Radcliff

In a probable cause statement, PCSO Detective Andrew Converse wrote, “While deputies were at this scene (where the body was found) beginning their investigation another call for service was received by the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office. The reporting party on this call wanted to report her brother, Troy Beebe, was a missing person.”

The woman told investigators that her brother was missing but his keys were found lying on the ground near his father’s house, where the Beebes lived.

Troy’s father apparently began looking around the property and discovered there was blood on a parked vehicle in the driveway and on the ground near the house in the 18600 block of West Jacqueline Avenue in the Colonia del Sol area near Casa Grande, according to the probable cause statement.

“There was also blood located on the chain-link fence in front of the victim’s residence,” court records state.

PCSO detectives processed the scene, finding several blood pools and droplets in the driveway.

“There also appeared to have been some sort of physical altercation that occurred in the driveway of the residence,” Converse wrote in his report.

During the investigation, the victim’s father told investigators Troy had been living with him on and off for several years. Recently, he had moved back into the house and had been there about three weeks before his death.

“Troy’s father had reported the neighbor across the street from him approached him and stated Troy had been knocking on her window on Feb. 26 at approximately 5 a.m. It was also reported Troy had gone to another neighbor’s house and possibly solicited some sort of sexual favor from the female that lived there,” Converse wrote in the probable cause statement.

The victim’s father also told investigators that he saw his neighbor John Radcliff changing a flat tire on his truck the day Troy was missing and it looked shredded, like it had been driven on when already flat. The father said Radcliff just behaved suspiciously that day.

Investigators believe Beebe was likely killed on Feb. 26 as Franklin, one of the suspects, was in a Casa Grande Circle K store at 2:40 a.m. on Feb. 27 saying “he had killed somebody and the body was in his car,” according to court records.

This was seven hours before Beebe’s body was found near Maricopa.

Casa Grande Police were called to the Circle K but Franklin had left before they arrived. He was also seen an hour earlier at another convenience store and clerks of both stores told investigators that he had “cuts on his hands and his hands were bloody.”

Franklin was driving “an old Lincoln 2-door passenger car that was beat up.”

Investigators determined that Radcliff and Franklin are biological brothers, according to court documents. Radcliff lives across the street from the victim and Franklin’s house is just down the street.

After processing the crime scene at the Beebe home, deputies searched the area for the location where Beebe was run over by a vehicle.

“There was a scene located approximately one-half mile from Troy’s residence in the desert area. The scene was processed and the same tire tread pattern was located there as what was found at the victim’s residence and the body dump location. There were articles of clothing that were blood stained and there was a significant amount of what appeared to be blood soaked in the dirt. There was also a second set of vehicle tracks in this area along with pieces of shredded rubber that appeared to be from a vehicle tire,” Converse wrote in his probable cause statement.

Franklin was located at the BBVA Compass Bank by Casa Grande Police and PCSO deputies. He was arrested driving the same Lincoln sedan he was seen in at Circle K early that morning.

“I looked at the undercarriage of the Lincoln and observed a significant amount of red stains consistent with blood on the entire undercarriage of the car,” Converse wrote.

Radcliff was located at home, across the street from Beebe house, and arrested shortly after Franklin was caught.

“John’s (Radcliff) truck was looked at and the undercarriage of his vehicle also had red staining in several areas of the undercarriage. This would be consistent with running over a body. The tire tread pattern on John’s truck was consistent with the tire tread pattern that was located at the scene where it is believed Troy was ran over,” Converse wrote.

More blood was found on the steps of Radcliff’s house during the execution of a search warrant.

In June 2010, Franklin was arrested after the shooting death of Benjamin Franklin in Picacho. Robin Franklin was wounded with several gunshots and was flown to Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix for treatment. He was eventually convicted of aggravated assault.

Radcliff was convicted of assault with intent to injure in September 2013.

Franklin and Radcliff are both being held without bond.


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Another fatal crash closes I-10 north of Casa Grande
 
 03.04.20

CASA BLANCA — Another fatal collision in the Interstate 10 “safety corridor” between Casa Grande and Chandler closed the freeway for more than three hours Wednesday, backing up traffic at least 10 miles.

The Department of Public Safety said the collision occurred in the westbound lanes at 10:51 a.m. near the Casa Blanca Road interchange.

The westbound lanes were closed and traffic was diverted off at Exit 175, which provides access to Casa Blanca Road on the Gila River Indian Community.

The Arizona Department of Transportation announced that westbound lanes were reopened at 2:30 p.m.

Traffic was also diverted onto State Route 387 (Pinal Avenue) near Casa Grande. Motorists took SR 387 east to State Route 87, then north to Loop 202 Santan Freeway in Chandler to get around the closure.

At 2:30 p.m. ADOT reported traffic was backed up on I-10 at least 10 miles to Casa Grande.

Details on the crash were not available.

This was the fourth fatal accident since Feb. 10 along the 23-mile stretch of I-10 designated as a safety corridor. It is the only section of the freeway that is two lanes in each direction between Phoenix and Tucson. The rest of the freeway is three lanes each way or more.

A total of six people died in the crashes.

Three people died early Feb. 16 in a collision with a wrong-way driver.

DPS officials say troopers got a call of a driver traveling west in the eastbound lanes of the freeway around 3:30 a.m. Shortly after, authorities say a crash was reported near Riggs Road involving the wrong-way driver.

The wrong-way driver was identified as 71-year-old Cornel Eugine Ard of Casa Grande.

DPS says Ard was taken to a hospital, where he died.

Four people were in a vehicle hit by the wrong-way driver and two passengers were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash.

The two deceased passengers were identified as 49-year-old Eva Michelle Sanchez of Arizona City and 27-year-old Jacob Adam Morales of Casa Grande.

The driver and a third passenger were taken to a hospital for treatment.

On Feb. 10, 41-year-old Anthony Kittrell of Casa Grande was killed in a rollover on I-10 near Riggs Road that closed the freeway for hours.

On Feb. 12, another fatal crash closed eastbound Interstate 10 on the Gila River Indian Community during the beginning of the morning commute.

A DPS spokesman said the crash occurred just after 5 a.m. and it involved a single-vehicle rollover. Gila River Police are investigating the crash.

The names or city of residency of the deceased was not released by Gila River Police.

The Arizona House last month overwhelmingly passed a bill that will fund the construction of a new six-lane bridge over the Gila River on I-10.

During his 2020 State of the State Address, Gov. Doug Ducey said the bridge expansion project would pave the way for ADOT to widen nearby lanes on I-10.

But so far there has been no development as to the progress or timetable for widening the entire stretch of freeway.


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The power of friendship put to the test as VGHS performs 'Steel Magnolias'
 mstaude  / 
 03.04.20

CASA GRANDE — Life’s ups and downs and the power of friendship are explored as Vista Grande High School brings to life the heartwarming tale of “Steel Magnolias” as its last theater show of the season.

“It’s funny and wholesome and overall, just a cute show,” said senior Payton Toscano, a senior who has been cast in the role of M’Lynn, one of six southern Louisiana women whose stories play out as the plot unfolds.

For Toscano, playing the part of a mom fretting over her adult daughter has been a fun experience.

“I normally play the young, naive characters,” she said. “So playing a strong mother character has been fun.”

The stage show “Steel Magnolias” is based on the 1987 comedy and features many of the same characters — Truvy, Annelle, Clairee, Ouiser, M’Lynn and Shelby.

“It was a stage play before it was a movie. The play was the basis for the movie starring Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, Olympia Dukakis and Darryl Hannah,” said Doug Harding, who is co-directing the Vista Grande High School production with his wife, Kathy Harding. Both are teachers at the school.

The plot follows the women through Shelby’s wedding, pregnancy, health issues and death.

“The show has so much emotion that ties directly into the ups and downs of life,” Toscano said.

As well Toscano in the role of M’Lynn, other cast members include:

  • Xela Mae Mercado, as Truvy Jones
  • Aurora Yoder, as Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie
  • Delaney Dickey, as Ouiser Boudreaux
  • Morgan Frazee, as Clairee Belcher
  • Lea Mejia, as Annelle Dupuy-Desoto.

Toscano said the cast has put a lot of work into the show.

“I hope we can portray that to our audience,” she said. “’Steel Magnolias’ has been a wonderful last show for me.”

The show is also the 19th and final show for the Hardings, who retire at the end of the 2019-20 school year.

“Directing our last show here is bittersweet,” Doug said. “In some ways, it doesn’t feel like we’ve done 19 shows. But, when I think of all the students we’ve had an opportunity to work with and teach, it seems like more than just 19.”

The couple oversee the Vista Grande High School Theater Department and direct most school productions.

Kathy, who has worked for the Casa Grande Union High School District for 27 years, is the technical theater, stage production and yearbook teacher for the school. She is also the sponsor of the SkillsUSA and Thespians programs.

Doug teaches drama, film studies and English at the school.

Both teachers have a passion for theater and have taken students on educational trips to New York City for the teens to see Broadway shows and visit acting schools.

“We love the kids we’ve worked with, backstage and onstage, and hope that we have made an impact on their lives, at least to a small extent,” Doug said.

Following retirement, both say they plan to continue to be involved in theater.

“Theater has been a large part of my life and it’s very hard to just walk away from. So I don’t intend to. We’re just starting the next act,” Doug said.

There are four chances to catch “Steel Magnolias.”

  • 6:30 p.m. Thursday
  • 6:30 p.m. Friday
  • 2 and 6:30 p.m. Saturday

Tickets are $5 at the door. All shows are in the Vista Grande High School auditorium, 1556 N. Arizola Road.


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CG and Grande Sports World working on solution to debt payout
 Suzanne Adams  / 
 03.04.20

CASA GRANDE — The city and Casa Grande Performance Institute are working on possible solutions to put in place if the institute is unable to meet a $7 million payout that is scheduled for this summer as part of its lease of Grande Sports World.

Casa Grande City Manager Larry Rains said the institute has been meeting its obligations under the lease agreement in maintaining the facility and grounds and providing 7% of its revenues to the city.

However, it is possible that the institute may not be able to make the $7 million payment due this summer, Rains said. The city is working with the institute on the situation.

“We’re evaluating what the next steps will be and developing potential alternatives,” he said.

Rains expects the process of evaluating the situation and identifying possible alternatives will take several months. It may be a while before anything is brought before the Casa Grande City Council for review. The matter was discussed by the council in closed session Monday.

Revenues at the facility have been increasing, Rains said, although he didn’t provide exact figures at hand. The institute has brought in additional sports events to the facility such as lacrosse games and cross country running meets. It has also added a high school, Arizona State University Prep, to the grounds, he said. The reputation of the facility has also continued to grow, which has helped draw attention to Casa Grande, Rains said.

Tim Alai, general manager of Grande Sports World, said the situation surrounding the $7 million payment is “being addressed.”

“We have met all of our requirements,” he said. “We are committed to providing an experience and to the community.”

The institute has maintained the fields and the facility, brought in eight Major League Soccer teams for training and added new sporting events, he said.

The reputation built by the institute and Barça Residency Academy has continued to grow and brought more attention and additional revenue to the Casa Grande area, he said. Each student in the academy has graduated with either a college scholarship or signed a contract with a professional team.

The institute has also added to the educational opportunities in the area with ASU Prep, which has a nearly 100% graduation rate, Alai said. The school’s robotics team has qualified for a world championship.

The school had an enrollment of 211 students in the 2018-19 school year, according to the Arizona Department of Education.

Rains said the situation surrounding the contract with Grande Sports is complex. The partnership with the city was created more than a decade ago and under different circumstances.

In 2009, the city had a need for additional sports fields and a policy change at the local schools made it more difficult and more costly for local nonprofit organizations to rent out the schools’ sports fields than to rent the city’s but the city didn’t have enough fields to accommodate all of the nonprofit teams’ needs, he said. At the same time, Major League Soccer’s Real Salt Lake was looking at Casa Grande as a possible place to create a training academy.

The city had property out near Francisco Grande Hotel & Golf Resort that provided enough space for fields and the idea at the time was that the economy was booming and the city would soon expand in that direction, Rains said. With the idea of creating a private/public partnership between the city and the resort to build and operate a facility for Real Salt Lake that would also provide sports fields for the city, the project seemed like a win-win situation. The city would own and have access to professional quality sports facilities without having to physically maintain the fields or pay for the maintenance of the fields, along with getting 7% of the revenues to pay off the bonds to build the facility.

The institute would get the majority of the revenue from the facility to help cover the cost of maintaining it, along with the prestige of operating a world class facility.

Rains estimated that it saves the city at least $1 million to have the institute maintain the fields at a professional level quality.

But things didn’t turn out exactly as planned, Rains said. The sports complex and contract were developed with Real Salt Lake in mind. A couple years after the complex was built, the school districts changed their policy on sports field usage and made it cheaper to rent the fields. Because the school fields were closer to the center of the city than Grande Sports World, many of the nonprofits decided to move their events back into town.

Then Real Salt Lake decided to create its own academy in Utah and left Grande Sports World, he said. The institute was able to bring in the Barçc Residency Academy as well as other sports events and ASU Prep, which has increased the revenue the institute has brought in.

That revenue stream has continued to increase in recent years, Rains said. And so has the prestige of Grande Sports World, which in turn has helped the reputation of the city of Casa Grande. That’s something that both parties would like to have continue.