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PD: Man arrested for murder of mother, stepfather linked to 7 other Phoenix-area murders

In a span of three weeks in 2017 nine people were killed across the Phoenix area.

The Phoenix Police Department, joined by other Valley law enforcement agencies including the FBI, announced Thursday they had tied one man to nine Phoenix-area homicides that occurred in a span of three weeks at the end of 2017.

Cleophus Cooksey Jr. was arrested on Dec. 17 after he was found inside an apartment with a man and woman, later identified as his mother and stepfather, both dead from gunshot wounds.

Cooksey was later booked for first-degree murder.

Now, a month after his arrest, Phoenix authorities say they have tied Cooksey to seven other unsolved homicides.

Here are the homicides Phoenix police say they've tied to Cooksey:

Nov. 27, 2017

Andrew Remillard, 27, and 21-year-old Parker Smith were found shot to death in a parking lot near Indian School Road and 16th Street. A motive in this incident has yet to be identified, police said.

Dec. 2, 2017

Salim Richards, 35, was found dead near 44th Avenue and Indian School Road. Witnesses said Richards and Cooksey knew each other, police said. A handgun was stolen from Richards.

Dec. 11, 2017

Jesus Real, 25, was shot and killed in an Avondale apartment complex. Real's sister, police said, had "some sort of" relationship with Cooksey, which gave them a person of interest.

Phoenix police have arrested women -- Cooksey's girlfriend Liliana Vasquez, her sister Griselda Vasquez and Desaree Coronado, the mother to Real's children -- for tampering and hindering the investigation into Real's death.

Dec. 13, 2017

Latorrie Beckford, 29, was found shot to death at an apartment complex near 55th Avenue and Camelback Road. Investigators discovered Cooksey had been at the apartment complex earlier in the day. Police are unsure of a motive, but said Cooksey may have had contact with Beckford.

Dec. 15, 2017

Kristopher Cameron, 21, was found shot in Glendale near 59th Avenue and Camelback Road. He died at a hospital. Police said Cameron was in the area for a drug deal with Cooksey.

Dec. 16, 2017

The sexually assaulted body of Maria Villanueva, 43, was found shot in Phoenix. Police said she was kidnaped a day earlier after being confronted by Cooksey at a Glendale apartment complex. Police do not have a motive or a relationship connection to Cooksey in this incident.

Dec. 17, 2017

Edward Nunn and Rene Cooksey were shot and killed near 12th Street and Highland Avenue. Rene Cooksey is Cleophus' mother. Cleophus Cooksey was arrested in connection to their death.

According to Phoenix police, evidence collected from each crime scene connected Cooksey to the unsolved cases.

Cooksey has been jailed since his arrest on Dec. 17, police said. His bond Thursday was set at $5 million cash only.

Salim Richards was a 35-year-old Phoenix security guard and one of Cooksey's alleged victims.

"He was beloved by the staff. He made people feel very welcome and very safe," said David Smith of Superior Protection Services, the security company Richards worked for. "The damage that has been done is really just incomprehensible."

Maria Villanueva is another alleged victim of Cooksey. She was a 43-year-old mother. Police say she was kidnapped from her Glendale apartment. They say she was sexually assaulted, shot and killed. Her body was dumped in a Phoenix alley.

"It's very hard, how someone can prey on someone so innocent," said Villanueva's family. "She was brutally murdered and she didn't deserve this."

Police said Cooksey previously spent 16 years in prison when a man he was working with to commit an armed robbery was killed. He has been out for about 18 months, according to police, and during that time has been in and out of jail.

Cooksey has a YouTube channel featuring several videos of him rapping under the name "King Playbola." In one instance, he raps the words, "Murder in my thoughts."

Cleophus Cooksey Jr. previous booking photo. (Photo: Arizona Department of Corrections)

According to Phoenix police spokesman Sgt. Jonathan Howard, during interviews with Cooksey they have received statements that "implicate him in these crimes to some level."

The investigation is ongoing and police are now seeking the public's help in identifying motive and any other case that may be linked to Cooksey.

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