The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, Criminal Investigations Section, was recently award a $45,000 grant from the Arizona Department of Public Safety to assist with expenses for staffing a cold case unit to investigate unsolved homicides in Yavapai County. The unit will be comprised of full time detectives working along side retired law enforcement personnel who have volunteered their service to this unit. These retired law enforcement officers have been specially selected based on their training, knowledge and experience in criminal investigative work. Lieutenant David Rhodes will provide overall supervision of the program as part of his command of the YCSO Criminal Investigations Section.
The money provided by the grant will assist the unit with overtime costs, travel expenses and equipment needs to support the assigned personnel. The unit will focus efforts to solve cases utilizing the latest DNA technology to not only discover potential suspects in a case, but link those persons already considered a suspect based on prior investigative work.
The cold case unit intends to bring renewed effort and investigative focus to the selected cases with the added goal of providing closure to those family members who have waited so long for resolution.
The unit has been directed to open 3 cases which have been selected based on a strong probability of being solved and prosecuted. As time permits, the team plans to review a majority of the remaining cases in anticipation of providing new leads and identifying suspects.
The cases highlighted below have been assigned to the unit:
William Wear, 47-year-old male victim – William, who was a paraplegic, was shot inside his Cottonwood home on Charolais Drive in January of 1988. Based on the investigation to date, detectives believe suspect(s) had entered the home to commit a burglary, discovered William inside, and shot him. Detectives are looking for anyone with information about this homicide to further leads already developed identifying potential suspects.
Francis Varney, 80-year-old female victim – Francis was last seen in early 2005 at her home in the 2800 block of Indian Wells Drive, Prescott Valley. She was living with her son at the time and he is suspected of being involved in her disappearance. Although her son has been questioned about the disappearance, the cold case unit is still seeking information from relatives, friends or anyone who may have had contact with Francis during this time. The victim’s son has been convicted for fraudulent use of his mother’s social security income and is currently in-custody. Based on the investigation to date, detectives suspect foul play in Francis’ disappearance.
Travis Riddle, 19-year-old male victim - Travis was last seen in October of 2005 in the Congress area and detectives have classified his disappearance as mysterious and likely involving foul play. Detectives have interviewed several possible suspects but are still seeking anyone who knew Travis or has information regarding his whereabouts in 2005. Travis frequented the Wickenburg and Congress area and occasionally resided in the 23000 block of Coleman Drive in Congress.
This team of detectives and retired law enforcement officers will have the opportunity to examine all cold cases on file and give the victim’s families renewed hope of closure in the death of their loved one.
If you have any information pertaining to these or other homicide cases in Yavapai County, or have questions regarding the cold case unit, please contact Detective Sergeant Luis Huante at 928-771-3278
If you would like to remain anonymous and have the opportunity for a reward based on information provided which leads to the arrest of suspect(s) in any of these cases, please call Yavapai Silent Witness at (800) 932-3232 or the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office at (928) 771-3260.