Yuma holding man wanted for questioning in local murder

February 28, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

YUMA — A man wanted for questioning in the death of a Winterhaven man is being held in Yuma as a suspect in the man's murder.

Imperial County Sheriff's Office deputies were looking for Michael Steven Phillips, 48, of Winterhaven in connection with the death of Jay Bee Brown of Winterhaven.

A phone call from a citizen tipped deputies to Phillips' whereabouts Tuesday, said Sgt. Sharon Stogner.

Deputies, in conjunction with the Yuma Police Department, went to the location, an alley in a Yuma residential neighborhood, where Phillips' van had reportedly been seen.

At first glance the alley appeared empty, Stogner said.

As deputies continued into the alley they spotted the van in an indentation in the alley where it was blocked from view by neighboring fences.


The van was backed up against a fence surrounding a home's back yard, Stogner said.

Phillips, who was in the yard at the time, saw officials as they approached and fled, Stogner said.

Sheriff's Deputy Rex Jernigan apprehended Phillips and turned him over to Yuma officials, who are holding him as a suspect in Brown's death.

Phillips could be transferred to Imperial County Sheriff's Office custody as early as this week if he waives his extradition rights. If not, court proceedings to secure extradition could delay Phillips' arrival in Imperial County Sheriff's Office custody, Stogner said.

The residents of the home whose back yard Phillips was in told officials they did not know Phillips was in the yard, although they know him, Stogner said.

Stogner credits the apprehension to members of the public who called law enforcement officials with information and leads. Quechan tribal police also provided critical information leading to Phillips' apprehension, Stogner said.

Brown was a member of the Quechan Indian tribe.

Brown's body was discovered Sunday in a wash near Picacho Road and the All-American Canal.

He died of multiple stab wounds to the head, neck and torso, said county Coroner Investigator Gary Hayes. Brown died late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, Hayes said.

Brown's exact age was unavailable this morning, although Hayes said he was in his 50s.

The investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information regarding the activities of Phillips or Brown between Friday and Tuesday, is asked to contact the sheriff's Winterhaven substation at 572-0229.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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