FLORENCE — Jurors in the case involving the murder of an Apache Junction couple on Friday heard testimony from a Pinal County Sheriff’s detective, with pictures, detailing what investigators found in the mobile home the couple were allegedly killed in.
Demian Blu, 44, is one of three men who were arrested in connection with the 2016 deaths of Keith Long and Renae Gardner. The couple were shot and killed while sleeping in their home in an Apache Junction trailer park. Long’s body was found in a canal near San Tan Valley. Gardner’s body was found along Beeline Highway/State Route 87 between Phoenix and Payson.
Blu is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and two counts of abandonment or concealment of a dead body. His trial started last week.
Clint Wendelschafer, 34, of Tempe and Nicholas Douglas, 45, of San Tan Valley were also accused of murdering the couple. Wendelschafer accepted a plea agreement in December 2019 and Douglas is awaiting trial. Wendelschafer is expected to testify in Blu’s trial.
During Friday’s testimony, the detective described where some of the photos submitted as evidence in the trial had been taken in the small trailer.
Detective Joe Benucci described how investigators found that the mattress in the one-bedroom trailer had been flipped upside down. When investigators righted the mattress, they found a large blood and decomposition stain on the mattress top along with what appeared to be a gunshot hole. The hole passed through the mattress, through the box spring beneath and investigators found a bullet on the floor under the box spring.
At one point, the detective pointed out that the stain on the mattress appeared to show that whoever had bled onto the mattress had been dragged off the bed.
Investigators also found what appeared to be a bullet hole in the sofa in the living room. When investigators flipped the couch cushions over, they found blood. Investigators also found that the bullet hole passed through the bottom of the couch and through the trailer’s floor. Investigators looked under the trailer but were unable to find the bullet. They did find a bag of lye that was opened and appeared to have been spread around part of the ground underneath the trailer.
The detective also detailed how investigators sprayed a product called Bluestar that can cause blood that is not readily visible to glow in a darkened room, in the trailer. He also pointed out that Bluestar can also cause other fluids, such as bleach, to glow.
Christopher Doran, one of Blu’s attorneys, asked the detective if some items such as a bottle of bleach, the bag of lye and water bottles found in the trailer were collected for evidence, dusted for fingerprints or tested for DNA. The detective said the items were not collected, dusted or tested.
The detective later explained that investigators typically collect items that seem to be out of place or seem likely to have fingerprints on them. Some items do not have surfaces that are conducive to picking up fingerprints or retaining DNA and some items are better examined in a lab.
Jurors also heard testimony from Dr. Cynthia Porterfield, a former forensic pathologist from Pima County who handled the autopsy of Long’s body.
She described how certain weather conditions and how the body was found made it impossible to give an exact time of death, but she estimated that Long had probably been dead more than a day but less than a month.
She also explained why she thought that Long may have died from a gunshot wound to the head and not a drug overdose even though methamphetamine, fentanyl, alcohol and an antidepressant were found in his liver. Porterfield cautioned that the alcohol reading may be skewed because the body had some decomposition.
The trial will continue on Tuesday.