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Man arrested after brutally killing woman in motel near Rural Road and Apache Boulevard

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Posted at 6:33 PM, Aug 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 23:09:13-04

A man has been arrested for killing his girlfriend at a motel in Tempe Saturday, after just being released from jail months ago.

Tempe police say they responded to a welfare check call on August 7, at a motel near Rural Road and Apache Boulevard at around 2:05 p.m.

A family member of the suspect called officers and reported that he made comments to his brother about his girlfriend being dead and he would be going back to prison.

When police arrived, they say they found a woman who was dead with "numerous" visible injures to her face and torso.

Motel staff identified the suspect as 56-year-old Gary Cox.

Cox reportedly called his brother to come and pick him up from Mesa near Main Street and Gilbert Road. While he was waiting at a bus stop, an officer in plain clothes was able to identify him and make an arrest.

Residents at the motel later told officers that the woman was very social and would often talk and visit with them. Once she met Cox, the residents say her behavior changed and Cox would be the only one coming in and out of the room.

A social services employee who would check on the victim, reported a change in her behavior once they became boyfriend and girlfriend. He also noted that Cox would answer questions for her and not allow her to speak.

Police also say a neighbor who lived above them complained at around midnight on August 6 into August 7 of loud banging. Motel security then went to the room and heard no noise and no one answered the door.

Officials say Cox's brother visited him recently and met the woman. Days later, when on a video call with his brother, he noticed the woman had a black eye that was not there when he met her.

Following a search of the motel, officers say they found:

  • distinct odor of bleach
  • empty bleach bottle
  • female clothing found damp near the sink that smelled of bleach
  • white bath towels with red stains consistent with bloodstains on them found on the floor
  • red stains consistent with blood spatter on a pillow on the bed, AC unit near the body, walls leading to the sink area and blood transfer stains on the bedding
  • reddish colored stains in the tub consistent with bloody water having been in the tub and dried in the tub
  • male clothing
  • papers with Gary Cox's name located inside the room

During the preliminary body exam by the Medical Examiner's Office, they discovered the woman had injuries that had possibly been cleaned. There were also two distinct indentations on the back of her head, swollen and hemorrhaged eyes, broken elbow, bruising on her chest and inner thighs, among other injuries.

When officers began photographing Cox, they noticed that his hands were swollen, and he would groan and wince in pain when his hands or arms were moved. When questioned about his hands, Cox said the injures were from work.

Later, Cox mentioned to officers that he was unemployed and collecting unemployment.

Cox was previously booked in the Arizona Department of Corrections with similar circumstances.

He was released from DOC in April after serving 18 years for manslaughter and is now facing charges of 1st-degree premeditated murder and kidnapping with intent to inflict death, injury or a sexual offense.