Phoenix man sentenced to death in double murder, burying bodies in mom's backyard

| September 09, 2017 |
A Phoenix man convicted of killing 2 people and then burying their bodies in the backyard of his mother's home was sentenced to death on Wednesday in Maricopa County Superior Court.

Alan Champagne was convicted of 1st- and 2nd-degree murder in June for the killing of Philmon Tapaha and Brandi Hoffner in 2011.

In addition to the death penalty for the 1st-degree murder charge, Champagne was sentenced to 24 years in prison for the 2nd-degree murder conviction, along with convictions for kidnapping and concealing a dead body.

Champagne's then-girlfriend, Elise Garcia, also was arrested and charged for her role in the killings and subsequent cover-up. She was sentenced to 16 years in prison for her role in Hoffner's death.

She was a key witness in Champagne's trial, testifying that she only heard the gunshot that killed Tapaha but witnessed Hoffner's killing afterward. The pair were killed inside the apartment that Champagne and Garcia shared.

A few days after the killings, police pulled over Champagne and Garcia. Police found a bag that reeked of rotting flesh, a bag of lime, Tapaha's Social Security card and a purse belonging to Hoffner. But police didn't link the items to the missing couple. Champagne was only arrested on an unrelated misdemeanor.

8 months later, the pair had another run-in with the law. Police were called to the home of Champagne's mother, where detectives had tracked down the couple because they were wanted on felony aggravated-assault warrants.

Champagne barricaded himself and opened fire on officers before a SWAT team stormed the residence. He only surrendered when he ran out of ammunition, police said.

No one was injured, and authorities searched the property, but did not find the bodies. Champagne was convicted and sentenced to 700 years in prison for the attempted murder of numerous police officers responding to that incident.

The bodies of the missing couple were not found until March 2013 when a landscaper discovered the makeshift graves of Tapaha and Hoffner in in the yard of the central Phoenix home where Champagne's mother had resided at the time of the murders.

Garcia testified that she heard the gunshots that killed Tapaha and heard Hoffner beg for her life. Champagne told her to calm down, then told Garcia to hold the woman. He then used a black electrical cord to make a noose, strangling Hoffner from behind, court records say.

The bodies were found clothed, mummified and covered in lime.

Source:, Sept. 9, 2017

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but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

from Death Penalty News

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