Queen Creek leaders comment on Preston Lord investigation, teen violence in the East Valley

Jan 25, 2024, 4:35 AM

Death of Preston Lord: Queen Creek leaders share updates...

Randy Brice, left, is Queen Creek's first chief of police. Julia Wheatley, right, is the mayor of Queen Creek. (Town of Queen Creek Photos/via Facebook)

(Town of Queen Creek Photos/via Facebook)

PHOENIX — Queen Creek Mayor Julia Wheatley and QCPD Chief of Police Randy Brice joined KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad Show on Wednesday to speak about the way the death of Preston Lord has impacted the community.

“Every story I’ve heard about him, just an incredible, remarkable human being,” Wheatley said. “It’s important that we honor him.”

Queen Creek PD submitted charges against seven suspects in the Lord case to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office (MCAO) on Dec. 29. The list of names included adults and minors, though no suspects have been named.

“We have hundreds of people that we’ve had to talk to. Over 300 tips that we’ve had to manage,” Brice said. “There are people working hard to get us the information that we need. On the other side of that is there’s so much misinformation that’s out there that has really complicated the situation.”

What was hard about investigating the death of Preston Lord?

“It really has been a jigsaw puzzle since day one,” Brice said. “These investigators have taken one piece of evidence that leads to another, which leads to another.”

He acknowledged public frustration over the speed at which the murder investigation has progressed.

“I know it frustrates everybody,” he said. “‘Why is it taking so long?'”

With so much evidence to sift through, piecing together a cohesive picture of what happened requires complex work, he said.

Is it safe for teens to go out in the East Valley?

Wheatley acknowledged the safety concerns swirling in the minds of many parents and teens in the East Valley.

“We continue to have additional officers in areas where our teens like to be and like to hang out, whether it’s restaurants or shopping areas,” Wheatley said. “I know when I drive around weekend nights, it’s very reassuring to see our officers are out there and making sure our kids are safe.”

Brice said communication between town officials and the public is essential. He’s been in close contact with Lord’s family.

“We continue to reach out to them regularly to make sure they’re updated on the case,” he said. “They’re extraordinary people. They have been nothing but supportive.”

Where is the Preston Lord murder investigation now?

Brice said it can be tricky for police chiefs to provide the public with detailed updates since they want to avoid hindering the MCAO’s legal efforts.

“Arrests are great, but we need to get to that point where we get a prosecution,” he said.

Although his department submitted charges to MCAO, their investigation is far from over, he added.

“We’re still waiting for a few things: medical examiner’s report and other things,” Brice said. “We are moving quickly on all ends to make sure we get what needs to be done, but do it right the first time.”

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Queen Creek leaders comment on Preston Lord investigation, teen violence in the East Valley