Daughter’s murder haunts local man
By Aleta Capelle
Will McElroy, a Brownsdale business owner, was visiting Arizona the day his pregnant, 19-year-old daughter was killed by an intruder in her Arizona condominium. In fact, just hours before her death, McElroy had lent her money to go shopping for the baby girl she was carrying.
"Amanda was the sweetest little girl. Always so happy," McElroy said. "Chase (her 2-year-old son) was always with her.
"But my little girl didn’t take any crap, either," the grieving father recalled. "She was just a little, bitty, petite blonde, but you didn’t cross Amanda."
In part, that makes her death even more tragic. McElroy suspects the wrong person found out that Amanda and her boyfriend had a large amount of cash in their Mesa, Ariz., condominium that the couple planned to use to buy a car. Instead of complying with the intruder’s requests, the couple might have fought back, McElroy said. The boyfriend was grazed by a bullet.
"She was hit in the back. Was she running to save her child? Was she running to the door?" McElroy said. The questions never stop running through his mind. He has several T-shirts carrying a picture of Amanda that he wears frequently.
Police believe Amanda was hit by a stray bullet as Amanda’s boyfriend struggled with the intruder. McElroy has moved back to Arizona to help keep Amanda’s death in the public eye by appearing at news conferences and granting interviews. He has closed the doors to a café he operated in Brownsdale and put it up for auction.
Meanwhile, Amanda’s son, Chase, is being cared for by McElroy’s ex-wife and his son, Will Jr., 17. Amanda’s boyfriend is Chase’s father, but his health is frail and he is unable to care for the child.
The days have been a blur for McElroy since the day his son called him to go to the hospital because Amanda had been shot. "As soon as I walked into the hospital and asked, I knew. They took us into a private room," he said.
Still another low point was the day the police released the 911 tapes of the boyfriend’s call for help after the shooting. "You could hear Chase yelling ‘Mommy! Mommy!,’" McElroy recalls.
Aleta Capelle of Spring Valley is a former Post-Bulletin reporter and copy editor.