Police: Frying pan and hammer used to murder Mesa mother
A Mesa woman was found dead inside her home and her 16-year-old son and his 17-year-old friend have been arrested in connection to her murder.
36-year-old Tina Helms Spencer was found murdered in the backyard shed, allegedly at the hands of her son Michael Helms.
Mesa Police say the 16-year-old's stepfather returned home from work about 4 a.m. Saturday and was immediately attacked by the boy. After a short struggle, the stepfather was able to escape the home and call 911.
When police arrived at the scene near Baseline and Gilbert Roads, a vehicle was missing from the home and there were signs of a struggle.
Police say they found a hammer and a frying pan at the scene.
At some point, the 17-year-old boy's parents called police and said their son was also at the home.
Helms was taken into custody after he pulled up to a friend's house and was greeted by detectives.
After interviewing both suspects, police say they found out Helms was grounded and had his phone taken away.
As his mother was returning home from work, they allegedly had a heated argument over the phone and he allegedly decided to kill her.
Police say Helms asked his friend to act as a lookout so he could attack her when she came home.
Both boys allegedly moved Spencer's body to the shed, attempted to clean up the scene and then the 17-year-old, Christian Blakely, left the area, according to police.
Police say Helms decided to also kill his stepfather, but they don't believe Blakely was part of that plan.
Neighbor Joan Knowles says she talked to Helms the night before the murder and that he told them his parents moved out of state and left him the house.
"He told me last night that they went to Ohio to be with family," said Knowles. "He was standing in the street looking up at the house, said he was going to paint it."
Friends describe Helms as a friendly kid, a junior ROTC cadet at Gilbert High School.
"He's a giant teddy. He's tough on the outside. He puts up that front, but when you get to know him, he's a standup guy," said Mike O'Connor.
O'Connor says his classmates are shocked at the accusations.
"He didn't really have home issues he talked about. If he did, it was typical stuff. One week he'd have a fight with this parents, the next week he was talking about how his mom was awesome and helping him out with something," said O'Connor.
"You would never suspect that from him, he was very nice," added friend Destiney Stockard. "I know that everybody picked on him a lot because he was kind of taller and awkward and he had red hair. Everybody used to call him ginger."
"He was always fighting with his parents but I didn't think he would go this far and do something like that," said Julian Chavez, a classmate.
Michael Helms faces charges of 1st degree murder, attempted 1st degree murder, three counts of aggravated assault, concealment of a dead body and tampering with evidence.
Christian Blakely faces charges of accomplice to 1st degree murder, concealment of a dead body and tampering with evidence.
Both Helms and Blakely will be charged as adults.