Tempe police found the body of an older man inside the home of a missing Tempe woman Thursday night, police said.
The woman’s boyfriend, Taw Benderly, was living at the home, but police would not confirm the body’s identity late Thursday night, said Tempe Sgt. Dan Masters.
Benderly is believed to be the last person to see 69-yearold Loretta Bowersock alive. He became the focus of the missing-persons investigation Tuesday after police said he stopped cooperating with detectives.
Bowersock’s daughter, Terri, asked officers to do a welfare check on Benderly when he failed to return her phone calls in the past two days.
Tempe police have not had contact with Benderly, who hired an attorney, since they took over the investigation from Tucson police earlier this week.
Benderly told police he dropped Loretta Bowersock off at Tucson’s Park Place Mall on Dec. 14, but she was missing when he arrived two hours later to pick her up.
Detectives have been able to place Benderly in Tucson and Casa Grande, but there is no evidence to indicate Loretta Bowersock was with him, Masters said.
The last confirmed sighting of Loretta Bowersock was Dec. 13 in Tempe.
Detectives last week searched the Tempe home Loretta Bowersock and Benderly shared, and Benderly’s van was seized over the weekend.
Several articles, including blankets, have been turned over to the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s crime lab to be examined forensically, Masters said.
On the advice of psychics, Terri Bowersock, who owns Terri’s Consign and Design Furnishings in Tempe, and dozens of volunteers have spent the last eight days trying to find Loretta Bowersock in the desert on the Gila River Indian Community between Phoenix and Casa Grande.
Few of the psychics have said her mother is alive.
"I have a real strong sense we are in the right area," Terri Bowersock said.
She and volunteers, including teachers on winter break and 4-H members, searched for fresh dirt and drag marks in the cold at 5:30 a.m. Thursday, but came home with nothing.
"Every day I have to walk out and believe it with everything I’ve got. And it’s so hard to come home," she said. "At this length of time, the thought of my mother being alive is almost a scarier concept because she’s hurt pretty bad. I want her to be home, but also don’t want her to be in pain all this time."
As the investigation has unfolded, Terri Bowersock has learned about the couple’s several financial problems.
Her mother’s house was foreclosed and scheduled to be auctioned by Maricopa County on Feb. 7, according to the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office.
Terri Bowersock maintains her mother never knew about the foreclosure on the house she lived in since 1979.
The couple also settled a $100,000 lawsuit in 2001, according to county court records.
Terri Bowersock said she has loaned Benderly and her mother lots of money over the years, much of it going to fund Benderly, an inventor, in his work.