PHOENIX, AZ – New evidence has emerged in relation to the arrest of a man alleged to have ignited a house fire in north Phoenix, leading to the death of an elderly woman last week. Wayne Everett Tweed, 59, is confronting numerous charges connected to the murder of 86-year-old Elizabeth Bell.
The fire incident was reported around 1:30 p.m. last Thursday at a residential complex situated near 39th Avenue and Mohawk Lane, positioned north of the Loop 101 Agua Fria freeway. As outlined by court documents, emergency services were informed of an individual trapped inside the house. Firefighters managed to contain the fire only to discover Bell’s corpse inside. Another resident of the house suffered injuries and was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening conditions.
Investigators interviewing the injured man learned that Tweed was engaged as Bell’s caregiver approximately a year ago. He recounted Tweed’s increasingly irregular behavior, including physical altercations with his girlfriend, tampering with the home’s air conditioner and creating sizable bonfires in the backyard. He also mentioned a restraining order filed against Tweed days before the fire, which prohibited him from entering the house.
As per the individual’s account, he noticed Tweed in the backyard around 6 a.m. on the fire day and promptly alerted the police. Though Tweed vacated the premise before the arrival of the officers, he reportedly kept returning throughout the day and finally left following an argument.
Early that afternoon, the resident was looking after Bell when he spotted Tweed strolling down the street through the window. Hardly a few seconds later, a crackling sound was heard from the kitchen followed by rapidly spreading flames. Bell, described as “bedridden with very limited mobility” was unable to be evacuated by the resident due to the escalating fire. He managed to escape through the front door and dial 911.
Police scrutiny of surveillance footage revealed a man resembling Tweed in the vicinity when the fire ignited. Tweed, known for carrying a lighter and lighter fluid, was implicated further when a K-9 identified two potential lighter fluid usage spots in the house.
On Friday evening, Phoenix police officers cordoned off a residence where Tweed’s mother resided, just a few blocks from the deadly fire scene. Tweed, who initially tried to escape, was captured and found in possession of a bag of pills presumed to be fentanyl. His girlfriend was also arrested on an unrelated felony warrant.
During an interrogation session with the detectives, Tweed conceded to visiting Bell’s house multiple times on the preceding Thursday but denied any role in the fire. Court documents state that Tweed requested an attorney when confronted with evidence.
Subsequently booked into jail, Tweed faces charges inclusive of first-degree murder, attempted murder, arson, kidnapping, and drug offenses. Tweed’s lengthy criminal record, with a manslaughter conviction in the 80s, was brought to light during the court appearance on Saturday.