Steven Pitt, before he was mysteriously gunned down outside his Phoenix, Arizona office, consulted in some of America’s highest-profile crime cases, from the JonBenet Ramsey death to the Columbine school massacre.
Pitt’s specialty was helping law enforcement officers get inside the minds of killers. Now his own slaying was vexing the Scottsdale and Phoenix communities after police revealed they believe Pitt’s death was connected to three other homicides that happened in the next two days, of two paralegals and, reportedly, another psychologist.
The murders began on Thursday, May 31, 2018, when the high-profile 59-year-old psychiatrist was slain outside his Phoenix office.
The suspect, who has not been named by police, killed himself on June 4, 2018 in an extended stay hotel. Police do not feel the homicides are random. 12News identified the suspect as Dwight Lamon Jones, 56, based on sources. A motive was not released. However, 12 News reported that one of the victims, Steven Pitt, “did a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation of Jones about eight years ago, during Jones’ bitter divorce from his wife,” and two paralegals who were gunned down worked at a law firm that employed Jones’ wife’s divorce attorney. Furthermore, the TV station reported that Jones had seen a therapist at the office where Levine died.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Pitt Consulted in Everything From the Baseline Killer Case to JonBenet’s Murder
Pitt built his career as a forensic psychiatrist for aw enforcement throughout the country on some of the nation’s highest-profile crime cases. It’s not yet clear whether his work on any of those cases played a role in his death. He consulted on the Baseline Killer case and was on the law enforcement task force dedicated to solving it. Pitt was also involved in consulting on the Columbine school shooting, according to NBC News.
He had his own firm, Steven Pitt & Associates. Pitt’s website touted his involvement in these high profile cases:
Consulting for the Boulder District Attorney’s Office and Boulder Police Department in the homicide investigation of JonBenet Ramsey.
Serving as an advisor to the Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office regarding the Columbine High School tragedy and Director of the Columbine Psychiatric Autopsy Project.
Serving as a consulting expert to the Eagle County (Colo.) District Attorney’s Office in People v. Kobe Bean Bryant.
Serving as an expert witness for the U.S. government in U.S. v. Alfonso Rodriquez, Jr. and U.S. v. Iouri Mikhel.
Serving as a member of the Phoenix Police Department’s “Baseline Killer” task force.
Serving as an expert for Plaintiff’s counsel in Andrea McNulty v. Ben Roethlisberger.
According to his website, “Steven E. Pitt, D.O., is a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. A graduate of Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. Pitt completed his residency training in psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical Center and a fellowship in forensic psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.”
His website continues, “Dr. Pitt has garnered a national reputation for his work in conducting forensic psychiatric evaluations, particularly regarding innovations that combine videotaping and transcription. Dr. Pitt’s consulting background includes work with the Phoenix Police Department Homicide and Missing Persons Units, and he has performed evaluations, testified and consulted on forensic psychiatry topics on a variety of criminal cases with national and international visibility.”
2. Steven Pitt Was Murdered Outside His Office
Pitt’s death was mysterious. Vincent Lewis, of the Phoenix Police Department said the shooting death occurred around 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 31, 2018, near Scottsdale and Bell roads. Witnesses described hearing “a loud argument followed by gunshots,” and the shooter fled, according to AZCentral.com.
The motive was not clear, and Pitt was found dead at the scene. “We are not ruling anything out, but at this point, a loud argument probably suggests they knew each other either professionally or personally,” Lewis said.
Police were able to develop a sketch of the suspect based on eyewitness accounts. You can see it above.
3. Pitt Was Raised in Michigan & Was Described as ‘Street-Smart’ & Openly Ambitious
The Phoenix New Times previously described Pitt’s work on the infamous murder case of JonBenet, the child beauty pageant contestant found murdered in her family home. Pitt, who generally worked with law enforcement, was a consultant for the District Attorney and the Boulder Police Department on that case.
Born to a homemaker and school administrator in Michigan, Pitt was described by the Phoenix publication as “a street-smart, openly ambitious wiseguy who seems most comfortable helping detectives sort out the psychopathology that has led someone — known or unknown — to commit a crime.”
According to Phoenix New Times, Pitt was a Hardy Boys mystery reader growing up, and he loved to watch other crime shows like Columbo and Ironside.
He went to medical school, becoming an osteopath, and “found himself increasingly drawn to the study of the criminal mind,” reported the Phoenix publication, which described him as a “good listener and a good talker.” Pitt’s website says, “Dr. Pitt has pioneered the combined use of videotaping and transcription to conduct forensic psychiatric evaluations, a valuable resource for civil as well as criminal cases.”
4. Pitt Appeared on National Television Shows & Testified in Court Throughout the Country, Including on Mass Murder
Steven Pitt was frequently called upon to testify in court. “Dr. Pitt’s extensive litigation experience includes testifying and/or consulting in a number of jurisdictions throughout the U.S. He has been retained both as an expert by the government and defense in criminal cases, and by defense and plaintiff’s attorneys in civil matters,” his website bio says.
One of his specialties? Mass murder.
“His areas of professional expertise include, but are not limited to: mental state at the time of the offense, competency to stand trial, serial rape, sexual harassment, psychic harm, testamentary capacity, wrongful termination, murder for hire, psychiatric autopsy, impaired professionals, domestic homicide, violence risk assessment, psychiatric malpractice, fire setting and arson, officer involved shootings, suicide and self harm, school violence, employment discrimination, sexual homicide, interviewing, stalking, spree murder, infanticide, and mass murder.”
Pitt was an active psychiatrist who also worked as a Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix. “He has co-authored numerous journal articles and book chapters, and his expert opinions have appeared in a wide range of print and broadcast media,” his website stated.
The website said he had appeared in the following media outlets, among others: “CNN, Dateline NBC, FOX, ABC News/Primetime, NBC’s “Today” show, Good Morning America, truTV’s In Session, USA TODAY, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Newsweek, FHM Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, U.S. News and World Report, New York Daily News, The Daily Beast, National Public Radio, Entertainment Tonight, Cosmopolitan, COURT-TV, Discovery Channel and the A&E network.”
5. Pitt’s Death Is Linked to Three Other Murders in Scottsdale
A spree of four murders, including Pitt’s, is believed to be connected to the same gunman, Scottsdale police now say. Some news reports say, though, that authorities are still trying to definitively link the fourth homicide to the string of them. The suspect is at large and has not been named. Police do not feel the homicides are random.
Stefania Okolie, the reporter for Fox10 Phoenix, reported early on that the cases were connected. “Law enforcement sources confirming shooting death of Steven Pitt, 2 paralegals at a Scottsdale firm, & a Doctor at a Scottsdale therapist office are ALL connected,” she reported. Police have released a sketch developed from witness accounts of the shooter.
The day after Pitt’s death, Valeria Sharp, 48, and Laura Anderson, 49, both paralegals, were shot in a downtown law office near government buildings and the local Scottsdale library. One of the women was shot in the head.
The double shooting occurred on Friday, June 1, 2018. The victims were identified as 48-year-old Sharp and 49-year-old Anderson.
Police said both women were shot in the law firm office, and that one injured woman “ran outside and told a limo bus driver to call 911. The woman was transported to a nearby hospital where she later died,” according to ABC15. The second woman was located dead inside the law office building. the television station reported. The shootings occurred at the Burt, Feldman, Grenier Law firm.
By Saturday, June 2, 2018, police were confirming that a fourth homicide might be connected too, although this had not yet been definitively determined. By June 4, police said all of the cases were linked. Phoenix New Times identified him as Marshall Levine, “a hypnotherapist and life coach,” although police had not yet identified the victim.
“UPDATE: Scottsdale police now confirming this is a homicide they are working at a office off of Hayden road. Law enforcement source tells me it is a therapist office. And the man killed is a psychologist,” Okolie wrote on Twitter. The fourth victim has not yet been identified.
According to AZFamily.com, the fourth murder occurred “at a business near the area of Hayden and Mountain roads” and both Scottsdale and Phoenix police were investigating.