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Phoenix police make arrest in 1996 murder case

Phoenix Police cold case investigators announced Wednesday that an arrest was made on Dec. 11 in connection with a 1996 murder.

Ronald Cortez, 49, was living in Chino Valley, Ariz. He is currently in jail in Yavapai County on suspicion of murdering Sarah Maxton.

According to information provided by police, “On January 19, 1996, just after 9 p.m., the victim, Sarah Maxton, was found murdered by the side of the road near 10300 West Lower Buckeye Road. Detectives from the Phoenix Police Department’s Homicide Unit began their investigation however the case eventually went cold.”

Investigators reopened the case, three years ago and forensic evidence led them to Cortez. Although investigators would not say what the evidence was, it was enough for investigators to obtain an indictment against the suspect. Cortez was arrested without incident.

Sarah Maxton, who was 30 at the time of her death, left three small children behind. For at least one of them, the news of the arrest brings a sense of relief and closure.

“Christmas is right around the corner and finally being able to go to sleep at night knowing that he’s in jail,” said the victim’s daughter, Reanna Reed, of the sense of relief the arrest brought.

Cortez was arrested without incident.


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