New clues in nearly decade-old cold case

Philip Marquis Leila Zeigler
Posted at 11:04 PM, May 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-14 08:36:14-04

ABC15 takes you back to one of the most horrific murder scenes in Maricopa County. Almost 10 years later, whoever killed 70-year-old Philip Marquis and 30-year-old Leila Ziegler, has never been found.

"They're still out there, until we know for sure. They're still out there and who knows what other families they're affecting with this kind of behavior," says Kristen Jordan, sister of Leila Ziegler.

It's one of 309 cold cases MCSO is actively working, and among more than 600 homicides still unsolved across the Valley.

"There was a lot of transient activity, a lot of drug activity, and it was kind of a higher crime rate than it is now out here," says Sgt. Steve Reaume, Silent Witness coordinator.

Sgt. Steve Reaume, with Silent Witness, walked with us through the crime scene. It is in a remote part of East Mesa, near Crismon Road and Main Street.

"There's the main house and then there was a small mobile trailer in the back, and that's where the victims were found," says Sgt. Reaume.

Marquis was living in the trailer. Investigators say Leila, a mother of three, was visiting him at the time. The family believes they were friends from when she used to live in the area. We're told Leila was trying to get her life together. She was apparently clean and sober for five months.

"It was Halloween night and she wanted to go to a party. I said, 'Please, don't go. Please, don't go,' and she insisted on going, 'Mom, I'll be fine," says Barby Jeffers, mother of Leila Ziegler.

She never came back home to where she was living with her parents. A few days went by with no response and then, came the news no family ever wants to hear. It was never revealed to the public how Leila and Philip were murdered but autopsy results, now given to us by family, show the brutality of the attack. Leila was stabbed more than 50 times.

"She was stabbed on the front and back, all up and down her body... like, you could tell that there was a fight, that she had put up a fight because that's who she was, she was a fighter," says Jeffers.

According to our original reporting, the people living at the home on the same property, were the ones who made the gruesome discovery.

"What I couldn't get over is that the house was 20-feet away from the trailer, and nobody heard a single thing? This awful, awful crime is happening, you know people are screaming, you know that there's a lot of commotion going on, and nobody heard a thing?" says Jeffers.

MCSO deputies responded to the call on November 5, 2012. They interviewed everyone who was there at the time. They also interviewed Leila's ex-boyfriend, Joel Ellis, who out-of-nowhere walked up to us while we were filming in the area.

"When was the last time you had spoken to her prior to finding out what happened?" asks Ashley Paredez, ABC15 reporter.

"Sunday, Sunday about 4:30 I talked to her on the phone… trying to get her, I was living at the apartments over there, back there and I was trying to get her to come back. You know, because Friday we broke up," responds Joel Ellis, Leila's ex-boyfriend.

Joel says that was the last time he ever heard from her..

"I loved her with all my heart; she was everything to me," says Ellis.

MCSO is going back through the evidence, including retesting DNA found at the scene, with new improved technology.

"That we're able to identify the offender or offenders that committed this crime, and present them to the criminal justice system so that our victims can get their day in court," says Sgt. Stephen Fax, Maricopa Co. Sheriff's Office.

As the years go by, Leila's family is only left with their memories.

"I am working hard to get a degree to be able to be an alcohol and drug abuse counselor to try and help people through these things, because it was... she was just, I wholeheartedly believe, she was just in the wrong place, at the wrong time," says Jordan.

If you have any information on the case, you are asked to call Silent Witness, and can remain anonymous. A cash reward is being offered for any tip that leads to an arrest and indictment of the suspect in this crime.