Thunderbird double homicide suspect bound over to Superior Court

Contributed Photo/Courtesy GCSO: William Lance Marengo, 28, was bound over to Superior Court on Wednesday regarding the murder of Sabrena Martin, 22, and Ruben Nicholas Morales, 36. He is being held on a $5 million bond.

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – The double homicide case against William Lance Marengo, 28, will now be heard in Graham County Superior Court. 

Nick Morales and Sabrena Martin

Marengo was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Wednesday regarding the murders of Sabrena Marie Martin, 22, of Safford, and Ruben Nicholas Morales, 36, of Salt Lake City, Utah, however, his attorney, Dennis McCarthy, waived the hearing and Marengo’s case was bound over to Graham County Superior Court.

Martin and Morales both went missing in January. Their bodies were found Aug. 24 when they were exhumed from a shallow grave in Thunderbird Mobile Estates. An autopsy from the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner later conclusively reported the cause of death for both victims to be via gunshot. (See: Man charged with two counts of first-degree murder in Thunderbird double homicide of Sabrena Martin and Ruben Morales – Gila Herald Nov. 27, 2019.)  

Marengo is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, armed robbery, kidnapping, carrying a weapon in the commission of a felony crime, disorderly conduct with a deadly weapon, abandonment/concealment of a dead body, tampering/destroying evidence, and transportation of a narcotic drug for sale. 

Prosecutors allege Marengo shot and killed Martin and Morales in a residence they were living in with him in Thunderbird Mobile Estates at 7080 S. U.S. Highway 191 and then eventually buried the deceased couple in a makeshift cellar at the rear of the property. He is also accused of discarding evidence of the crime near the Gila River and trying to destroy it by burning. The motive for the killing was allegedly over a half-ounce of heroin and $100 in cash, according to Marengo’s recorded statements to police. He also allegedly told investigators that he sold the murder weapon – a .22 caliber revolver – to a person in Tucson for $80. 

Marengo will next appear in front of Graham County Superior Court Judge Michael D. Peterson for his official arraignment on his charges Tuesday, Dec. 17, at 2:30 p.m. At the preliminary hearing, his bond was set at $5 million. 

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