A man suspected of fatally bludgeoning his mother and teenage nephew was arrested Monday after he was seen drinking from a park sprinkler, police said.
Officers in Tempe responded to a call Monday morning about a suspicious person in a park. Officers questioned the man and let him go, police said.
A short time later, police received another report of a suspicious person and a dispatcher noticed that the description matched a photo of 35-year-old Erick Lampert, a suspect in the death of his mother and nephew, Sgt. Steve Carbajal, a Tempe police spokesman said.
Tempe officers combed the area and apprehended Lampert in a business complex.
"A family will sleep a little better tonight and I think we will too," Detective James Holmes, a Phoenix police spokesman, said.
The 9-year-old sister of the teen victim told police that Lampert hit her 14-year-old brother Loggan after the two got into an argument Saturday at the home of 61-year-old Sheila Lampert, Holmes said.
The girl said she ran to her mother's home nearby but later called Loggan, who said everything was OK.
When Sheila Lampert failed to pick up her daughter from work, the daughter got a ride from a friend and found her mother dead in a bedroom with head injuries, Holmes said. Officers found Loggan dead with similar injuries in a backyard trash bin.
Officers recovered a shovel that they believe may have been used in the murders, police said.
"It was horrific, especially for a mother to come home and find her own mother (dead)," Holmes said.
Lampert was living with his mother at the time of her death, Phoenix homicide investigator Sgt. Eric Lumley said.
After a series of arrests for driving under the influence and disorderly conduct, Phoenix police hadn't had contact with Lampert since 2005, Lumley said. Lampert had two outstanding arrest warrants for allegedly violating orders of protection by his mother and father.
Family members told police that Erick Lampert had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder but had not been treated in several years, Lumley said.
Officers weren't sure how Lampert got to a Tempe business park, about 18 miles from his central Phoenix home. Before Saturday, Lampert's daily activities had been restricted mostly to his home, a nearby liquor store and a few local parks, Lumley said. Officers had expected to find him closer to his home.
Lampert's family members had feared that he would come back and hurt them, police said.
Co-workers at the Arizona Humane Society remembered Sheila Lampert as a strong advocate for animals, saying they were deeply saddened by her death, according to a news release Sunday by the agency. She worked as a veterinary technician at the Humane Society's Second Chance Animal Hospital in north Phoenix.
"We will miss her warm and caring nature, and the animals in our care have certainly lost a compassionate champion," Guy Collison, executive director of the agency, said in the release.