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Police say no connection between Gilbert lake deaths in the East Valley

Posted at 5:06 PM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-18 20:51:34-05

GILBERT, AZ — Amid growing concern among some in the East Valley, police say there is no connection among a series of deaths that involve lakes or ponds.

Since 2016, at least four people have been found dead in a pond or lake in Gilbert. On Sunday, a man's body was recovered from a neighborhood lake near Queen Creek and Lindsay roads.

"When there was a fourth one I'm like...something is really weird with this," said a Gilbert mom who did not want to be identified.

The four cases have sparked concern for some people who find it an unusually high number of cases where bodies were found in water.

"You don't just find four bodies in four different small ponds near a park in a small community," the mom said.

Residents have sounded off and speculated about the cases on social media or reached out to us at ABC15 directly. We took those concerns to Gilbert police on Monday.

"There is no indication that, in part or in whole, that any of these four cases are connected in any way," said Gilbert Police Sergeant Bill Balafas.

In the Summer of 2016, Alyssa Romine was found dead in a pond at the Riparian Preserve. On Monday, Gilbert police told ABC15 that remains an open death investigation.

In July of last year, two women were found dead in Gilbert in separate lakes. Police ruled one a suicide. The other case involved 56-year-old Toni Phearse, whose body was discovered in a lake at Cosmo Dog Park. On Monday, police said they deemed that case an accidental drowning.

The body of a man found Sunday in a pond remains under investigation, but police say there are currently no signs of foul play. An autopsy is scheduled for this week.

Police told ABC15, while Sunday's case is in the early parts of the investigation, there is no reason to believe it has any ties to any of the previous three.

"We appreciate the questions but those are things that we actually look into as we go along with our investigations to see if any cases are a string of cases," Sgt. Balafas said. "If there are, we're going to put that information out because that is a public safety issue."