Firefighters find body in trunk of burning car on SE side

A body was found in the trunk of a burned car Thursday afternoon on the city's southeast side, police said.

Shortly after 3 p.m., the Tucson Fire Department received reports of a car on fire at East Poinciana Drive and South Dogwood Avenue, said Sgt. Chris Widmer, a Tucson Police Department spokesman.

The area is in a neighborhood south of East Escalante Road and west of South Pantano Road.

While firefighers were putting out the blaze, they found a body in the car's trunk, Widmer said.

The vehicle appeared to be a silver two-door car, Widmer said.

Homicide detectives remained at the scene late Thursday night.

No further information was released.

Carmen Duarte

Parents arrested in abuse of their twins, age 18 months

The parents of 18-month-old twins were arrested Wednesday on suspicion of child abuse.

Kristepher Benavidez, 25, and Monique Gaxiola, 30, were booked into Pima County jail. Each faces two counts of child abuse, said Sgt. Chris Widmer, spokesman for the Tucson Police Department.

Tucson Fire Department personnel went to a home in the 5200 block of South Newcastle Court, near South Midvale Park Road, in response to a child-not-breathing call about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

While Fire Department personnel took one of the toddlers to a hospital, police discovered the toddler's twin and a 7-year-old sister at a neighbor's home. The older child appeared uninjured, but the twin girls had suffered "injuries that appeared nonaccidental," Widmer said.

Detectives "determined that the father had been physically abusing the twin 18-month old sisters for an unknown period of time. The mother was aware of the abuse but did not report it. Both children suffered severe trauma from the abuse," Widmer said in a news release.

The oldest child is in the custody of state Child Protective Services. The twins remain hospitalized.

Bond for Benavidez was set at $20,000, while it is $5,000 for Gaxiola.

Kimberly Matas

Man arrested in fatal crash had run over brother in 2004

A suspect in a Catalina hit-and-run this week was involved in another fatal vehicle accident nine years ago.

Andrew Rene Perez, 24, is being held in the Pima County jail on a $40,000 bond in connection with the Tuesday death of Jacob Lee Wyckoff, 22. Pima County sheriff's deputies found Wyckoff just after 7:30 a.m. lying against a fence on the road's dirt shoulder in the 15400 block of North Twin Lakes Drive.

The vehicle was identified as a black Ford F-150 quad-cab truck, which was located less than a mile north of the incident. Soon after, deputies arrested Perez, who is facing a charge of leaving the scene of an accident involving death, said Deputy Tom Peine, spokesman for the Pima County Sheriff's Department.

Nine years ago, Perez, then 15, accidentally ran over his 10-year-old brother, Adrian, while backing the family's SUV out of a driveway, according to a May 26, 2004, article in the Arizona Daily Star. The younger brother had jumped on the hood of the vehicle several times, stated a deputy who investigated the 2004 case. The elder Perez repeatedly told his brother to get off the hood and finally hit the brakes. Adrian flew off toward the driver's side and Perez panicked and drove over him, authorities said then. The 10-year-old died at a hospital four days later.

A check of records at Pima County Juvenile Court shows no charges were filed against Perez in the earlier incident.

Kimberly Matas

Mexican is arrested at border driving semi with 3 tons of pot

A Mexican driver of a semi-truck was arrested Wednesday at the Nogales Commercial Facility after federal officers found more than 3 tons of marijuana in containers labeled vacuum pumps and lamp holders, authorities said.

The 33-year-old driver was referred to a secondary inspection, and officers detected an anomaly in the tractor-trailer, which was spotted by a commercial X-ray system, said Edith Serrano, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman.

A narcotics detection dog detected the presence of drugs, and officers found 6,219 pounds of marijuana with an estimated worth of more than $3.1 million, Serrano said.

The big rig and marijuana were seized, and the driver was turned over to federal authorities.

Carmen Duarte