A 22-year-old Chandler man was arrested Monday afternoon in a triple homicide that Phoenix police suspect was drug related.
Michael Craig Walton was arrested about 3:30 p.m. at a parole office near Country Club Drive and U.S. 60 in Mesa, said Phoenix detective Tony Morales. He was booked into Maricopa County’s Madison Street Jail in Phoenix on three counts of first-degree murder.
Killed were Ryan Theraldson, 24, Carlena Hahne, 27, and Philip Shanoff, 22.
"He knew our victims and went to their home on East Bethany Road to buy methamphetamine from the two males," Morales said. "After using the methamphetamine with the two males, Walton suddenly pulled out a weapon and started shooting."
Theraldson and Hahne were shot downstairs and Shanoff was shot upstairs while trying to hide, Morales said. A dog in the residence was found shot in the head, and was taken for treatment.
Authorities believe Walton hoped to steal whatever methamphetamine and money was left in the home, Morales said.
"This is a classic example of the violence that goes handin-hand with methamphetamine," Morales said. "Meth users can become violent and unpredictable. They can go off in an instant."
The victims, all of whom lived at the home at 747 E. Bethany Home Road, were discovered by a friend about 9:30 a.m. Sunday.
Detectives received a number of leads early in the case, Morales said.
Members of the department’s special assignment unit followed Walton from his home in the 4500 block of West Gail Drive to the parole office, Morales said.
According to Maricopa County Superior Court records, Walton was sentenced to 20 months probation in August 2003 for possession of drug paraphernalia. He was sentenced to two years in prison for aggravated driving under the influence in November 2002. He was released on parole in March. Walton has past convictions for unlawful use of means of transportation and criminal trespass.
Theraldson and Hahne were scheduled to go to trial in the same case Oct. 19, according to court records. Hahne also had a trial date scheduled for Oct. 12. It’s unclear what charges the pair faced.