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DNA evidence helps to solve 22-year-old Arizona murder case

PHOENIX — The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office and Mesa police say that a 22-year-old murder case has been solved thanks to DNA evidence.

A grand jury has indicted 62-year-old Raymond Hanley in the October 1993 death of Debra Shipley in Mesa.

County Attorney Bill Montgomery said her body was found by Mesa arson investigators on a bed inside an apartment that had been set on fire.

“Her hands and feet had been bound, and she had been shot in the back,” said Montgomery. “Despite an extensive investigation at that point, all leads were exhausted, and the case became inactive.”

Then in March of 1994, a woman told Mesa police that she was on the side of a road with car trouble.

“An unknown male arrived and offered to help her,” Montgomery said. “But he then forced her at gunpoint into his motor home, where she was handcuffed, bound, and sexually assaulted.”

She later identified Hanley in a police lineup, and he was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Hanley would later submit a DNA sample, and in 2009, his DNA matched DNA recovered from a cigarette butt found at the scene of Shipley’s murder.

Despite the DNA evidence, detectives had to continue to re-interview Hanley and developed more information that implicated him in the murder.

Mesa Police Spokesman Esteban Flores said that Shipley’s relatives have been told that Hanley has been charged in her death.

“The mother of the victim is still alive. She’s in her 80’s,” said Flores. “When she was contacted and notified about this case and that we were going to file charges, she thought that we had forgot about her daughter. We will never forget about these cases. We will continue to work them.”

Shipley’s daughter is now in her 30’s and has a family of her own. Flores said the daughter was about to call Mesa police to find out if there was anything new about the case when she was notified that Hanley was being charged.

Montgomery said that as it stand now, Hanley could face life in prison if convicted. He says his office has 60 days to decide whether to ask for the death penalty.