Bodies of Arizona couple missing since last month possibly found in nearby home

Posted at 3:46 PM, Jul 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-02 15:47:51-04

MARICOPA, Az. — Bodies thought to be of Mike and Tina Careccia, an Arizona couple missing since June 22, have been found and a man has been arrested in the case, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said Thursday morning.

Authorities used a backhoe to dig near the home of the couple, CNN affiliate KNXV-TV in Phoenix reported. The sheriff’s office had served a search warrant in Maricopa, near the Careccias’ house.

“Our search of the property on West Papago Road has led to the recovery of two bodies, a man and women that we believe to be Mike and Tina Careccia,” Babeu said in a statement. “As well, we have one male … in custody who lives at the property being searched.

“Family members of the Careccias have just been notified of the recovery and arrest. Our investigators and staff continue to carefully gather evidence that we believe will prove critical to our investigation and result in a stronger criminal case.”

Police said Jose Valenzuela, 38, of Maricopa, was arrested Wednesday as is being held on suspicion of murder.

Tina Careccia was on her way to work with her husband last month when they went missing, relatives say.

Their dark gray 2008 Honda Accord was found abandoned, but there was no sign of them.

“This is not just a search, but it is also criminal investigation into the couple’s disappearance,” Babeu said earlier this week.

Mike Careccia’s son first reported the pair missing in a 911 call on June 22, telling a dispatcher his father, 44, and stepmother, 42, hadn’t been seen all day after leaving home to head to work.

“I’m worried about him and … their phones are off,” he says in a recording released by authorities. “They’ve been gone for 12 hours now.”

The sheriff’s office said it “searched with air, ground and K9 resources” soon after the report was filed but found no signs of the couple in the desert.