PD: Man killed girlfriend, buried body in gun safe near South Mountain

Posted at 1:12 PM, Oct 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-12 21:55:26-04

Police have arrested a man accused of killing his girlfriend in 2016, sealing her body shut in a gun safe, and burying the safe in a desert area near South Mountain.

Phoenix police on Thursday morning arrested 59-year-old Paul Steve Palandri at his home near 7th Street and Greenway Road. 

Palandri is accused of shooting and killing Jana Van Sickle, who was 51 years old when she was reported missing on November 28, 2016. 

A month after family members reported Van Sickle missing, Gila River tribal members found a deep hole in the desert near 87th Avenue and Dobbins Road. They also found a "large metal gun safe" that had been welded shut.

Gila River police and FBI agents had the safe cut open, where they found a woman's decomposed body, one Converse tennis shoe, a beer can and .22 caliber shell casings. 

The Maricopa County Medical Examiner later determined that the woman had been shot to death, and identified her as Jana Van Sickle. 

Police say last week, a witness came forward saying he heard Palandri say on several occasions that he shot Van Sickle as revenge for her burning his barn. 

Department of Corrections records show that Van Sickle did in fact serve four years in prison for arson.

The witness reportedly told police that Palandri hid the body on the two-acre property, but she started to "stink". He then put her in the gun safe and welded it shut. 

The witness said others helped Palandri bury the safe on the reservation. Police say they found several guns, shovels and work gloves at Palandri's home. The gloves had the same color paint on them as the gun safe. 

Palandri is being held on a $1,000,000 bond for second-degree murder.