More than 500 tips, a speed photo enforcement ticket, and a witness have led Tempe police to arrest a transient man in the May dragging death of 21-year-old Arizona State University student Kyleigh Sousa.
About 7:05 p.m. on Tuesday, officers from the Phoenix office of the U.S. Marshal's Service arrested Joseluis Marquez, 20, who was living in west Phoenix, on suspicion of first-degree murder. Police also said they have identified the other passengers who were in the car and are gathering evidence against them.
Police say Marquez was driving a champagne-colored 2008 Charger in front of an International House of Pancakes near campus about 2 a.m. on May 26 when he grabbed Sousa's purse and drove off. Sousa was tangled in the purse straps, but broke free as she fell hard to the ground and under the car, police said.
Sousa, an aspiring trial attorney, died hours later at a nearby hospital from blunt force trauma and severe head injuries before her family members could fly into Arizona from her home state of New Jersey.
The arrest brought some closure, Sousa's older brother, Bernie Sousa said from New Jersey on Wednesday.
Bernie Sousa, 33, said the family was informed Tuesday night of the arrest, a call he said was a surprise and one the family did not think would come this soon.
"I would say we have a lot of mixed emotions," Sousa said. "Our mom (Karen Montenegro) became emotional and upset and cried. For me, it's a sense of relief, but I wanted to know more about who this person was, and how they could do something like that to a person. This has been very difficult with us with the holidays coming up. We're all lost, but it's a little peace of justice that he won't be doing this anymore. We are grateful for the outpouring of love and support our family has received."
Hours after the crime, police began reviewing a database of speed photo enforcement tickets to locate any cars that possibly matched the description witnesses saw flee the scene on May 26. Marquez was issued a speed photo enforcement ticket in Tempe on May 10, while driving a rental car out of California. The car also has been recovered.
During a crowded press conference on Wednesday, Tempe Police Chief Tom Ryff, Cmdr. Kim Hale and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery (his first murder case as county attorney) said that the investigation remains ongoing and that justice will be served in what was a "senseless act."
"This death was very tragic," Ryff said. "In any investigation, we just don't want to establish probable cause and make an arrest. We want to make sure we reviewed every fact and detail. Last night, our investigation led us to what we were ultimately looking for - the person driving the car that night."