A mother moved into a friend’s house in East Mesa with her two young boys to escape a husband she suspected of using drugs and hiring escorts.
But Janell Mora could not hide from Stephen Mora, who is accused of tracking her down and shooting her to death while she was jogging on Sept. 26 near Power Road and the Loop 202 Red Mountain Freeway.
Mesa Police formally arrested the 54-year-old Scottsdale Realtor on Wednesday following his release from a local hospital for treatment of a gunshot wound to the head.
Shortly after the shooting, Mora attempted suicide as he sat in his silver Mercedes Benz in the parking lot at Mesa police headquarters, shooting himself in the head, police said.
He survived and was arrested on suspicion of second- degree murder, according to a court document.
The document said that Janell, who had two master’s degrees and had formerly worked for Arizona State University, had separated from Stephen on Sept. 7 and moved more than 20 miles from their north Phoenix home to East Mesa in hopes of eluding him.
Her sister, Amy Hall, told the Tribune that the two had a meeting set up only a couple of days after the slaying and were scheduled to discuss an amicable divorce.
The court document describes how Stephen Mora visited the house where his wife and her children were staying on Sept. 25 but was told she wasn’t there.
He returned armed with a revolver on Sept. 26.
Janell Mora had attempted to hide her location from her husband but to no avail.
A witness reported that Janell pleaded for help the night she was slain, approaching the witness’ vehicle and saying, “Help me, he has a gun,’’ the court document said.
Moments later, the witness watched a man, later identified as Stephen Mora, shoot Janell and get into the driver’s seat of his Mercedes.
Another witness reported seeing the victim lying in the southbound lanes and “a male crouching over her with a revolver in his right hand.’’
Police said a low-slung vehicle hit Janell and other passersby administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation though she eventually was pronounced dead at the scene.
Stephen Mora’s father called police and told them his son had shot his wife and intended to take his own life.
Later, Stephen himself called police and said, “I shot my wife’’ and that he was going to shoot himself at police headquarters in downtown Mesa.
A short time later, an officer heard a shot and saw the suspect step out of his car, blood covering his face.
Police found the revolver, two spent casings and Mora’s cell phone inside the car, according to the document.
A preliminary autopsy by the Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office revealed that Janell Mora was shot through her right side and suffered internal bleeding after the bullet travelled through a lung.
She also sustained some cracked ribs from being struck by the passing car.
The document said that Stephen Mora was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, but did not identify the substance.
Janell, 40, was laid to rest in her native Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Her estranged husband was initially locked up in the Mesa City Jail but was expected to be transferred to the County Jail.
The Moras were married in April 2017 and it was the second marriage for them both.
Janell, who had been divorced several years and whose two sons, ages 8 and 9 are from her previous marriage, met Mora in 2016 through the dating app Tinder. The Moras married about 10 months after he divorced his first wife.
At the time of their wedding, Janell posted effusive descriptions of Mora, calling him “the most charming, kind-hearted, loving…man I’ve ever known.”
The court document gave no indication when their relationship soured, stating she had separated from him on Labor Day weekend.
The slaying – one of two domestic killings of women by their husbands that weekend – came days before the beginning of October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Experts say domestic violence is often built on a pattern of intimidation and manipulation of victims, with the abuser oftentimes attempting to control every aspect of a victim’s life.
Mesa Mayor John Giles hosted a Domestic Violence Awareness Month digital event on Thursday that can be viewed on Mesa Channel 11 or the city’s You Tube channel.
The purpose was to educate the public about domestic violence, encourage victims to escape from their tormentor and to demonstrate there are shelters and other resources available to help.
Janell’s family has set up an account on gofundme.com to raised money for the victim’s two sons. It can be found by searching “trust fund for Brighton and Owen McClelland” on the site.