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Man kidnapped, dismembered over money dispute, police say

<i>KPHO</i><br/>John Cole
John Cole

By Peter Valencia

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    PHOENIX (KPHO) — A man faces kidnapping and first-degree murder charges after allegedly kidnapping a man from Phoenix over a money dispute, strangling him to death off Interstate 10, and trying to dismember his body in Tucson.

According to court documents, the victim’s girlfriend dropped him off at his apartment near 39th Avenue and Camelback on Friday, Sept. 16,. Later that night, she got a text message from him saying he had been kidnapped because “Rod had gotten him into something.” Police later identified Rod by another name, Jaron, who was the victim’s childhood friend and current roommate.

In the text message, he told his girlfriend that he was scared and shared his location, which showed he was traveling along the I-10 in Chandler. A few minutes later, the victim’s girlfriend got a call from Adrian, another roommate. According to documents, Adrian told her that money was owed to a guy named “Tony,” later identified as the kidnapping suspect, whose real name is John Anthony Cole.

Court paperwork revealed that on Sept. 18, Jaron shared screenshots with the victim’s girlfriend of “Tony’s” cell phone number and a home address in Tucson.

On Monday, Sept. 19, Phoenix police were tipped off about a possible kidnapping. Later that day, an officer contacted Adrian, who said he got a call late at night that Friday where Cole said he was going to kill the victim if Jaron did not pay the money owed. Detectives gathered cell phone records with location information showing Cole and the victim were together, traveling from Phoenix to Tucson. DPS troopers found Cole driving a Black BMW near Quartzsite on Wednesday, Sept. 21, pulled him over, and arrested him after they found human remains in the car.

After being taken into custody, Cole reportedly told officers that the victim attacked him while they were stopped in a rural area off of I-10 for a bathroom break. Documents say he told investigators he strangled the victim to death in self-defense. He then reportedly took the body to his house in Tucson. And that weekend, Cole bought several cleaning supplies to dismember the body. Ultimately, he showed officers where he dumped the rest of the body, in a rural area south of Tucson.

Cole faces theft by extortion, kidnapping, abandonment, and concealment of a body, and a first-degree murder charge.

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