KJZZ is a service of Rio Salado College,
and Maricopa Community Colleges

Copyright © 2024 KJZZ/Rio Salado College/MCCCD
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Pinal County Sheriff Looking For Two Suspects In Septic Tank Murders Cold Case

(Photo courtesy of Pinal County Sheriff's Office)
The septic tank where the dismembered body of one of the victims of a 2008 murder was found in 2014.

The Pinal County Sheriff's Office is asking for the public’s help in solving an eight year old cold case that is seeing new light due to recent advancements in DNA research.

Sheriff’s officials says they are looking for two suspects in connection with a brutal double murder in Casa Grande. Both victims were reported missing in 2008. One was found dismembered in a wash in 2009. The second was later found dismembered in a septic tank in 2014.

Their deaths are being labeled as the septic tank murders.

As a result of new DNA technology, police were able to identify the two victims as Baltazar Lopez and Azaren Cordova, both 36-years-old at the time of their disappearance from west Phoenix on April 27, 2008. The pair was last seen leaving a friend's home that evening, telling acquaintances they were going to look at a truck in Casa Grande.

Phoenix Police say Lopez may have been connected to the Sinaloa Mexican drug cartel.

“We do know that the one victim, Lopez, was involved in the Sinaloa cartels and the second one we have no information [on],” said Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. “In fact we don't believe Cordova was involved at all. He was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, riding with Baltazar to Casa Grand and they were going to pick up money that was owed to him by the cartels, over $10,000 in cash.”

Authorities are looking for two brothers, Fausto Negrete-Olivas and Dionicio Negrete-Olivas, both of whom are high-level drug traffickers. Investigators believe the brothers lured Lopez to Casa Grand as a set up to kill him, and never intended on paying him.

Despite the fact that the crime took place over eight years ago, Babeu says he believes the threat is closer than ever.

“Some people may dismiss this as drug violence, as gang related, but this is in Pinal County, just 30 miles outside of Metropolitan Phoenix," he said. "And while we hear about these types of murders and decapitations and then disposing of [the bodies] in Mexico, we don’t see murders like this here.”

So solving this case is about justice and sending a message, Babeu says— “We don't see murders like this here. And we have to take a stand and say this shall not happen here in Arizona and there shall be justice for this type of brutal murder.”

Fausto served time in the Arizona Department of Corrections for drug trafficking and was released from custody in 2013, just before the second body was discovered. Both brothers have been spotted in Nogales, Mexico within the past year. Police are asking for the public’s help in locating their whereabouts and are asking that anyone with information to call Pinal County Sheriffs at 520-866-5111.

Olivia Riçhard is an assistant producer for The Show.