Phoenix man arrested after human remains found - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Coffin with bodies buried at Phoenix home; former resident charged with murder

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Alan Matthew Champagne Alan Matthew Champagne
PHOENIX -

It was an eerie sight Tuesday night when crews unearthed a large wooden box in the backyard of a home -- and police describe what was inside as human remains.

A man who once lived at the home near 16th Street and Indian School Road now faces murder charges after the bodies of a man and woman were found inside the coffin -- and police believe they are the victims of a murder dating back to October 2011.

And now the suspect, 42-year-old Alan Champagne, who has actually been convicted of murder before -- is in custody.

The location of where the bodies were found and the murder scene are just a few blocks away from each other.

There are a lot of elements to this story.  The one common factor is Champagne.

Police took Champagne into custody in connection with those murders.  He lived in the home his mother owned -- the residence where the remains were uncovered.

It was late Tuesday night when detectives uncovered the huge wooden box -- a makeshift coffin in the backyard -- with the human remains inside.

"We believe that the murder..the homicides occurred at the apartment at 3400 North 12th Place..we believe those bodies were then transported and ultimately buried in the rear yard of the mothers home," said Phoenix Police Sgt. Tommy Thompson.

According to Thompson, in October 2011, detectives received a tip that a double homicide took place an apartment complex near 12th Place and Osborn.

Residents confirm Champagne lived there around that time and court documents indicate he was involved in an aggravated assault at the same address.

One neighbor told FOX 10, "There was like a few things that happened here and there during the night time...fights, police coming over, but like I said, I'm the type of neighbor that just minded my own business."

Champagne was involved in a shootout with SWAT last March when detectives went to the house on 14th Place -- the same house where the remains were found -- to arrest him for the assault.

He's been in jail since, but on Wednesday, he was transported to police headquarters and questioned about the murders.

"At this point, we believe there was an altercation where for whatever reason we believe he was involved in the murder of these individuals," said Thompson.

Police believe the murders took place sometime in June or July 2011 -- the tip didn't come in until October.

At that point, the apartment was renovated, but detectives searched it anyway and came up with some forensic evidence.

Champagne was named a suspect at that time, but couldn't be charged until now because there were no bodies.

Champagne served nearly 13 years in prison on a murder conviction before being released in 2005.

Despite police activity at the home, Champagne's former neighbors were still stunned watching investigators unearth a coffin from the backyard.

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