A former court commissioner wound up in handcuffs this week after police say he threatened to kill any Scottsdale city employee who ventured onto his property.
A police spokesman said Robert Phillip Murphy, 69, would have been arrested and booked into Scottsdale jail even if a recent mail bomb hadn’t heightened security concerns in the city.
"Whenever threats of a serious nature are made — such as those by Mr. Murphy — serious actions are taken," detective Sam Bailey said Wednesday.
Police said Murphy made his threat during a telephone conversation Sunday morning with an employee in the city’s water department because of red tags placed on the door of his home in the 8400 block of East Via De Dorado. The tags said his water would be shut off if he didn’t pay his bill.
City water operations technician David McGuire said Murphy told him twice that he was Judge Robert P. Murphy and said he had paid his water bill.
Karen Arra, a spokeswoman for Maricopa County Superior Court, said Murphy was not a judge but a court commissioner from 1990 until his retirement in 1999. Commissioners handle uncontested matters, such as arraignments, initial pretrial conferences and orders of protection, Arra said.
McGuire told the irate man he could not help him, and asked him to call the billing department Monday. Murphy became more frustrated and raised his voice, McGuire told police.
When McGuire said he was going to hang up, Murphy responded, "Make it known that I will kill any city of Scottsdale employee that sets foot on my property," police said.
Attempts to reach Murphy were unsuccessful Wednesday.
McGuire said the threat sounded real to him. He called his supervisor, who called police.
Scottsdale officer Wesley Shaffer arrested Murphy at his home about 1 p.m. Sunday on suspicion of misdemeanor use of a telephone to threaten, intimidate or harass. He spent the night in jail and was released on his own recognizance Monday morning, Bailey said.
Murphy told police he did not mean to threaten physical harm to anyone.