Phoenix Serial Killer 2016: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Phoenix serial killer, Phoenix Police Department

A police sketch of the Phoenix serial killer. (Phoenix Police Department)

A Phoenix serial killer is suspected of striking for a ninth time after police say he shot at a 21-year-old man and 4-year-old boy.

The killer – who appears to strike randomly in the dark of night, randomly shooting people outside their homes – is terrifying the Phoenix, Arizona community. No one was injured in the July 11 incident involving the man and boy, however the serial killer has taken seven people’s lives and injured 2 others, Fox News says.

Most recently, the Phoenix killer “ambushed and fatally shot two women and a 12-year-old girl in their driveway,” said NBC News. The shootings began in March, 2016.

Police announced Aug. 3 that they believe the July 11 incident fits the unknown killer’s pattern. They have released a drawing of him from a police sketch artist (above). NBC says that the incident means the killer struck again even after police alerted the Phoenix community about him.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Police Believe The Serial Killer Has Access to Several Cars & Have Considered Whether He Is a Mechanic

The killer doesn’t always use the same car; witnesses have described a white Cadillac or Lincoln and a “a late ’90s or early 2000s 5 series BMW,” said NBC. This has led police to consider whether the gunman “works as a mechanic or on a used car lot” or somewhere else where he would have easy access to multiple cars, NBC said.

Most of the attacks “occurred in the blue-collar Maryvale neighborhood,” said Fox News, although not all of them. CNN described the area as a “Latino enclave” that law enforcement experts think the killer knows well.

CNN says some people are calling the killer the monster of Maryvale or the serial street shooter.

2. The Killer Attacks People Who Are Standing Outside Their Homes or Sitting In Cars

Police say the killer’s M.O. is to attack victims “as they stood outside their homes or sat in vehicles after dark,” according to CBS News. The killer either fired while sitting in a car or stepped out of a vehicle and fired, said CBS.

Police haven’t released additional details about the most recent shooting, said The Associated Press.

Police have said there is no evidence to connect the killer to 11 freeway shootings in Phoenix in 2015.

CNN reported in April that charges were dismissed against a man, Leslie Allen Merritt Jr., who was charged in those Phoenix-area crimes. His lawyer has said he was wrongfully accused.

3. Police Say They Have No Idea What the Killer’s Motive Is & Are Offering a $50,000 Reward

Police are turning to the community for help because they don’t have many leads, says The AP, adding that the reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest. They don’t know why the killer is striking.

People who have information can contact the Phoenix Police Department Violent Crimes Bureau at 602-261-6141 or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS, said

4. The Killer is Described As a ‘Lanky Man in His Early 20s’

Although The Associated Press says that’s the description police consider most likely, they are still not ruling out the possibility that others are involved.

In July, CNN described the man as “a lanky Hispanic male under 5 feet, 10 inches tall,” according to Sgt. Jonathan Howard of the Phoenix Police Department.

However, in the same story, CNN said that witnesses had described the man “as a light-skinned Latino or white man in his 20s.”

5. The Serial Killer’s Victims Do Not Appear Connected to Each Other, Police Say

Maleah Ellis

Maleah Ellis. (Go Fund Me)

CNN said police can not find any link among the victims of the man, who uses a semi-automatic handgun to commit the crimes.

The victims are Diego Verdugo-Sanchez, Krystal Annette White, Horacio de Jesus Pena, Manuel Castro Garcia, Maleah Ellis, Angela Linner, and Stefanie Ellis. You can see photos of the victims here. The Ellises and Linner were shot together.

A Go Fund Me site for Maleah Ellis’ family says, “although only at the tender age of 12, she was able to touch the lives of so many with her contagious smile, cheerful personality and unique ‘Maleah’ attitude.”

The killer appears to be targeting Hispanic and African-American victims, but they range in age from 12 to 55, says CBS 5 in Arizona. The first victim, a 16-year-old boy, was shot on March 17 but survived, said KTVK.

The victims were shot between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m.