A man who William Miller said went drinking with him the night of the Barrington Estates slayings in east Mesa has a criminal past, according to court documents obtained by the Tribune.
Miller employed Jeff Kelsey at his fire damage restoration franchise and served as a character reference after prosecutors charged Kelsey with stealing an ambulance and resisting arrest on Christmas Day 2003 in Phoenix.
Miller, 28, told the Tribune shortly before his arrest on Friday in the quintuple homicide that he spent the night of Feb. 20 drinking with Kelsey, 22, and Seth Ladner, 21.
Mesa police have said they believe one or two other people were with Miller and the victims inside the Barrington Estates home during the early morning hours of Feb. 21 when the shootings took place. Police have not identified Kelsey or Ladner as suspects in the homicides and declined Tuesday to say what role — if any — Kelsey has in the investigation.
“We’re still doing followup and moving on with the investigation,” Sgt. Chuck Trapani said.
Kelsey could not be located Tuesday for comment.
By Feb. 20, Kelsey no longer worked at Miller’s business, P uroclean of Scottsdale, Miller said before his arrest.
Ladner was an employee at the time. He told the Tribune he passed out at Miller’s Scottsdale house about 2 a.m. Feb. 21 — too early to know the whereabouts of Miller and Kelsey at 2:41 a.m., the time of the killings.
Court documents state that Kelsey was a frequent drug user around the time that police arrested him on suspicion of stealing the ambulance. He pleaded guilty in February 2004. He told probation officers he used marijuana “as often as possible” and was unsure if he was addicted to it.
In the documents, he said he also snorted methamphetamine once a month and previously used mushrooms and LSD. He told investigators he was on meth the night he stole the Southwest Ambulance vehicle. He told police the theft was a “spur of the moment” act and that he intended to return it later.
Miller defended Kelsey in a letter to the courts dated Jan. 20, 2004.
“I am well aware of the circumstances and issues that surround his incarceration and further prosecution,” Miller wrote on Puroclean letterhead.
Kelsey worked long hours, helped Miller open new Puroclean offices and earned nearly $40,000 annually, Miller wrote.
“I guess the greatest testament to his skill as an employee and his value to our organization is the fact that the monies put up for bail were given to his parents by Puroclean in advance of his payroll. We need Jeff’s help that much,” Miller wrote. His bond was $1,800.
Kelsey’s father, Daryll Kelsey, who worked for an insurance company that often hired Puroclean, also wrote a favorable character reference. Daryll Kelsey said his son wanted to join the military in the “near future.”
Three of the shooting victims — Tammy Lovell, 32, her boyfriend Steven Duffy, 30, and his brother, Shane Duffy, 18 — were former Puroclean employees. The other victims were Lovell’s children, Cassandra Lovell, 15, and Jacob Lovell, 10.
Miller and Steven Duffy had been charged with torching Miller’s Scottsdale house on Nov. 25.
Steven Duffy and Tammy Lovell had been assisting Scottsdale police with the arson investigation.