Missing Tempe Improv owner found dead in Valley hotel room - East Valley Tribune: Public Safety

Missing Tempe Improv owner found dead in Valley hotel room

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Posted: Wednesday, June 6, 2012 5:28 pm | Updated: 5:01 pm, Sat Aug 4, 2012.

Mark Wilson Anderson, the longtime co-owner of the Tempe Improv, was found dead in a Buckeye hotel room Wednesday. Maricopa County Medical Examiner confirmed Anderson’s death.

Sources say Anderson checked into a Days Inn hotel May 21, six days after his family reported him missing.

Anderson, 60, was reported missing on May 15, three days after he left Oklahoma City to travel to Phoenix or Dallas to do business, according to a private investigator hired by his family.

The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office did not have any immediate information on the cause or circumstances of Anderson’s death, but a representative from that office said an autopsy is scheduled for Friday.

The Buckeye Fire Department responded to a call at the hotel about 11:08 a.m. as a report of a cardiac arrest, according to Paul Carmen, deputy chief for the Buckeye Fire Department.

Buckeye police also responded to the hotel after hotel staff informed them that a member of its cleaning crew had entered Anderson’s room and discovered his body, according to Lt. Jared Griffiths, a Buckeye police spokesman. It was not known how long Anderson had been in his room, but the rooms are cleaned every two days, Griffiths said.

Griffiths said he was not in the room, but was not aware of anything suspicious. Anderson’s family members had been notified.

Anderson is survived by his wife, Holly and 2-year-old son, Luke, who live in the Oklahoma City area.

The Tempe Improv, located near Arizona State University’s Tempe campus at 930 E. University Drive, closed on June 1, about two weeks after its co-owners, Anderson and Howard Pohlenz announced that the 24-year-old club would be closing. The owners of the Improv cited its closing to competition by StandUp Live, a newer comedy club in downtown Phoenix that’s been recently landing the majority of national acts. In the past, the Tempe Improve had featured major acts such as Jerry Seinfeld, George Lopez and David Spade.

Pohlenz could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Anderson was described by those who worked with him as being someone who was “very exact” and knew what he wanted, acording to Tony Vicich, director of ComedySchools.com., a six-week course that teaches standup comedy. Vicich who was hired by Anderson as a comic in the 1980s and again in the 1990s.

“Every local comic and big name star owes Mark a debt a gratitude,” Vicich told the Tribune Wednesday. “He came to the Valley and liked what he saw here. He believed in the comics here. About two years ago, he bought a home in the Valley with the hopes of spearheading a comedy renaissance.”

Anderson’s family had hired Thomas Martin, a private investigator with Martin Investigative Services of Newport Beach, Calif., to look into his disappearance.

Martin told the Tribune last month that his office was monitoring Anderson’s credit card purchases and phone calls, but there has not been any movement on them since May 15, the day he showed up at a friend’s house in San Diego.

Investigators had focused their search on the Dallas area, as there were at least three reported sightings of Anderson in the Dallas suburb of Carrollton, as well as one at WinStar Casino in Oklahoma near the Texas border, Martin said.

There also were “millions” of tweets on Twitter speculating about Anderson, according to Martin.

Martin told the Tribune Thursday that he was confident that investigators were monitoring all of the credit cards Anderson had access to with hopes of tracking his whereabouts.

He also released a statement issued by Anderson’s family that said: “The family of Mark Anderson would like to thank everyone who has reached out to them with their time, thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time. Mark was a much-loved husband and wonderful father and a friend to many. Throughout his life, he touched thousands of people with his warm, funny and loving personality. We were also blessed to have Mark in our lives. He will be dearly missed.”

Services for Anderson are pending.

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