‘Cruel’ murder in Mesa ends in prison conviction 35 years later

Kevin Reagan
3 Min Read



The 22-year-old woman was strangled to death with an electrical cord in a Mesa apartment. A suspect was not arrested until 2022.

MESA, Ariz. — A 60-year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering a young woman in Mesa more than 30 years ago. 

Thomas Cox was recently sentenced in court after pleading guilty to the first-degree murder of 22-year-old Susan Morse. The victim was strangled to death with an electrical cord in October 1989. 

Cox also pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a single mother in 1990 at the same apartment complex where Morse was murdered.

The two cases where linked together in 2002 after DNA testing confirmed the same man committed both violent crimes.

But Cox was not identified as a suspect until 2022 after more advanced DNA testing could be conducted, according to the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office. FBI agents collected another DNA sample from Cox’s home in Colorado Springs, which matched with evidence from the cases and resulted in his arrest.

“This defendant committed these offenses in such a cruel manner and then went on have a full life while the victim’s young life was halted,” County Attorney Rachel Mitchell said in a statement. “It’s only appropriate that this defendant spend the rest of his life in prison.”

Cox will have an opportunity to be released from prison after serving 25 years.

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What is the Valley?:

“The Valley” is what locals call the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. It is considered the largest metropolitan area in the Southwest. 

The Valley is made up of various major cities other than Phoenix, including:

  • Mesa
  • Chandler
  • Scottsdale
  • Tempe
  • Glendale
  • Surprise
  • Peoria
  • Gilbert
  • El Mirage
  • Avondale
  • Litchfield Park
  • Goodyear
  • Buckeye

Whether a city is in the “East Valley” or “West Valley” depends on where it is in relation to Phoenix.

The cities of the Valley have a combined population of 4,845,832 people, according to the 2020 United States Census. This makes it the 11th largest metropolitan area in the country right behind the Boston and Atlanta areas.



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Kevin Reagan , www.12news.com
KPNX Vivrr Local Feed: crime , 2024-03-15 16:45:35
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