Serial killer suspect linked to nine killings in Arizona

By Sara Shayanian  |  Jan. 19, 2018 at 9:02 AM
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Jan. 19 (UPI) -- The Phoenix Police Department announced on Thursday that a suspect arrested for killing his mother and stepfather last month was linked to seven other deaths.

Cleophus Cooksey Jr., 35, allegedly shot and killed nine people over the course of three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The aspiring rapper, who called himself "Playboy," was arrested on Dec. 17 for the killing of his mother and stepfather in their home.

Using new technology, the police discovered that Cooksey was linked to "several homicides" -- beginning with two men in a parked car and continuing with shootings on Dec. 2, Dec. 11, Dec. 13 and Dec. 16.

In one case, Cooksey is accused of abducting a woman in Glendale, sexually assaulting her and killing her. Another victim include the brother of his ex-girlfriend.

Authorities say the victims seem to generally be random, with no pattern. The victims varied in age and demographics, with Cooksey killing men and women: black, white and Hispanic. Some were killed after meetings were set up online or through text.

"To solve nine homicides in a period of three weeks is outstanding," Sgt. Jonathan Howard, Phoenix police spokesman, said on Thursday.

According to the police, the suspected serial killer appeared to grow bolder as he killed more people -- even pretending to be one victim's cousin and directing a Glendale police officer to the body of a man he had shot moments before and posting a photo of himself on Facebook wearing the jewelry of a man he killed.

Authorities said it was possible Cooksey is linked to other killings.

Police Chief Jeri Williams attributed the break in the case to new technology available to law enforcement -- making it possible for them to acquire ballistic information from several crime scenes and compare them to one another.

Cooksey has been charged with nine counts of first degree murder, eight counts of possession of a gun as a felon, theft of a gun, armed robbery and sexual assault.

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