PHOENIX — Bail was set at $1 million Thursday for an ex-convict accused in
a double-homicide case after human remains were found at his mother’s former
Alan Matthew Champagne, 42, was arraigned after being rebooked into jail
Wednesday on suspicion of two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of
concealment of dead bodies. Champagne was already in custody on unrelated
criminal trespassing and aggravated assault charges, authorities said.
Phoenix police were called Tuesday after landscapers doing work for the home’s
new owners discovered the bodies of a man and a woman inside a wooden box buried
in the backyard.
They said the bodies “were in an advanced stage of decomposition and had
mummified” and were “clothed and covered with lime.”
The bodies were sent to the Maricopa County medical examiner’s office for
autopsies, and police announced Thursday afternoon that the victims were
positively identified as Philmon Tapaha, 32, and his 26-year-old girlfriend,
Brandi Nicole Hoffner.
Police said they were withholding information about how they died.
Documents released Thursday show that Tapaha’s sister was the mother of
Champagne’s two children.
The woman told detectives that Tapaha learned Champagne allegedly was cheating
on the sister, and that may have upset Champagne.
Investigators believe Tapaha and Hoffner were killed in a north Phoenix
apartment in June or July 2011 after some kind of altercation with Champagne.
Police processed the apartment as a homicide scene in October 2011 and said they
recovered biological evidence through forensic means.
“We believe the bodies were transported and then buried in the backyard of the
mother’s home,” said Sgt. Tommy Thompson, a police spokesman.
In March 2012, police were trying to follow up on an unrelated case involving
Champagne and he barricaded himself in at his mother’s house. Police allege that
Champagne fired numerous shots at officers before he was arrested.
Champagne was interviewed Wednesday by police about the double-homicide case
but wouldn’t talk about it, Thompson said.
He didn’t have a lawyer as of Thursday. Champagne has a status conference and
preliminary hearing scheduled in court next week.
Records show Champagne was given a 14-year prison term in 1991 for
second-degree murder. He was released in 2005.