Veleria Sharp and Laura Anderson, the two long-time paralegals who were gunned down in a Scottsdale and Phoenix, Arizona murder spree, were remembered as consummate professionals who loved their families and were warm personalities.
The murders began on Thursday, May 31, 2018, when a high-profile psychiatrist named Steven Pitt was slain outside his Phoenix office. Veleria Sharp and Laura Anderson were killed the following day in Scottsdale, and the day after that, another psychologist, Marshall Levine, was reportedly gunned down at his office in that community.
The suspect, who has not been named by police, killed himself on June 4, 2018 in an extended stay hotel. 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.
A GoFundMe page has been created to help the women’s families.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Sharp & Anderson Were Both Shot Inside a Law Firm & One of the Women Ran Outside to Flag Down Help
Although it’s not clear which paralegal made it outside, one of them ran out of the firm to flag down a passerby. However, that woman, who was shot in the head, didn’t make it.
The two paralegals were shot at a local law firm 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 wounded 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. The firm is located in downtown Scottsdale near a cluster of government buildings, including the local library.
2. Sharp’s Husband Called Her ‘One of the Finest Women’ He Ever Knew & The Women’s Law Firm Praised Them
The law firm where both women worked released a statement praising them. “Laura has worked with us as family for more than ten years,” it said of Anderson. “Her intellect, passion and friendship has meant more to us than we can even begin to convey. She was more than a coworker, she was a friend, a mother, grandmother, daughter and wife and gave all of herself to her family, her friends and her work.”
As for Sharp? “Veleria was a treasured member of our work family. She brought joy, calmness, warmth and compassion to all that she did. She was a dedicated mother, wife and daughter. She and her family shared a deep passion for music and their faith.”
Saber Sharp, Veleria’s husband, posted about her death on Facebook. “Yesterday, the world lost one of the finest women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing,” he wrote.
“Veleria Rascoe Sharp will be forever in my heart and the hearts of the many family and friends who knew her. The outpouring of love and support has been incredible. I appreciate your kindness during this time. I also appreciate you giving us the time and space to grieve. We welcome your love and prayers but will not be answering any questions at this time.”
A friend also posted a tribute, calling Veleria a “bright light.”
“I am stunned… Veleria was such a bright light…words can not do justice to the hurt you and the boys are experiencing but I trust that your faith, family, and friends will be your companions as you grieve and remember your amazing wife and mother ❤” she wrote.
Veleria’s Facebook page profile read, “I’m learning to take God out of the box and believe for the impossible.” The page says she was from Raleigh, North Carolina, lived in Chandler, Arizona, and studied at Wake Technical Community College. She had children, her Facebook page indicated.
By Saturday, June 2, 2018, police were confirming that the murders of Sharp and Anderson were possibly connected to two other homicides, one which occurred Thursday and the other which occurred on Saturday. All of the victims had ties to the legal or medical communities.
“MORE: Scottsdale police also now confirming, what we reported late last night. The shooting death of 2 paralegals at Burt|Feldman|Grenier Law office is connected to shooting death of Steven Pitt #Fox10Phoenix,” Stefania Okolie, a reporter for Fox10 Phoenix, wrote on Twitter.
As Scottsdale was still reeling from the three earlier murders came word of a fourth homicide that police were investigating to see if it was related. “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. Phoenix New Times identified him as Marshall Levine, “a hypnotherapist and life coach,” although police had not yet identified the victim.
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.
The fourth murder occurred on Saturday, June 2, 2018, meaning that a homicide was occurring every day.
3. Sharp & Anderson Had Both Worked as Paralegals for Years
On LinkedIn, Laura Anderson wrote that she had worked at the law firm for 12 years. She was also a notary public who lived in Mesa, Arizona.
According to her LinkedIn page, Veleria Sharp had worked as a paralegal for law firms in Oregon, Washington, and North Carolina, before moving to Arizona. She also once worked for the North Carolina Attorney General’s office.
The page, which doesn’t appear to have been updated, reads, “I would like to obtain a legal assistant/secretary position which will allow me to maximize my knowledge and skills. I have over 20 years of experience in the legal field, and I enjoy all of the different facets this field has to offer.”
She was working for a Portland, Oregon law firm until 2015. “Provided legal support in the areas of appellate, business litigation, administrative law, public law, and labor and employment; produced a variety of legal documents and correspondence; performed research and discovery production; and performed various office duties, which included electronic filing, docketing, calendaring, administrative decisions, client/attorney contact, timekeeping, and travel arrangements,” was how she described her duties there.
Sharp also once provided legal support for the North Carolina school boards association.
4. Pitt, the First Victim, Consulted on the JonBenet Ramsey & Columbine Cases
Steven Pitt, a 59-year-old psychiatrist, was very well known in the legal world because of his long-time consultations 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 too. Pitt was also involved in consulting on the Columbine school shooting, according to NBC News.
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.
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.”
5. Both Women Were Well Known in the Scottsdale Legal Community & Police Released a Sketch of the Shooter
The GoFundMe page seeking to help the families of Sharp and Anderson describes them as “two well-known and respected family law paralegals.” Katey McPherson, a former client of the law firm where Anderson worked, told AZFamily, “She was efficient. She was just such a kind person.”
Police have released a sketch they say is of the gunman, a male. You can see it above.
In addition to the sketch, police described the shooter as “an adult male, bald and wearing a dark-colored hat with a short brim.” The motive for the shootings is not clear.
This story will be updated as more details are learned about the victims.