County Investigators Seek Link Between Two Murders


Police are investigating a possible connection between the September murder of Ronald Bianchi of Paradise Valley and the recent dismemberment of Scottsdale businessman Ira Pomerantz.

The men's wives, Valerie Pape and Merle Bianchi were friends, and after Pomerantz and his wife separated, Pape spent some time at the Bianchi house in Paradise Valley.

Bianchi's body was discovered in the woods north of Payson by a group of hikers Sept. 18. Investigators say the man died from a gunshot wound to the heart. No suspects have been identified in Bianchi's murder.

"We're still evaluating (the possible connection between Pape and Merle Bianchi)," Gila County Attorney Jerry DeRose said Monday. "We're not going to ignore that they were friends."

The headless, limbless torso of Pomerantz was discovered in a dumpster behind a Mesa grocery store Thursday afternoon. The rest of his body has not yet been found.

According to the East Valley Tribune, a delivery truck driver witnessed a petite blonde woman throwing the torso into the dumpster behind the store. He jotted down the license plate number of the woman's Jaguar as she left the scene. Police traced the Jaguar to Pomerantz's estranged wife, Valerie Pape.

According to a report in the Tribune,Pape admitted to dumping the torso in the trash and has been charged with first-degree murder.

While Gila County detectives continue to investigate the Bianchi murder, they'll also be following the Pomerantz investigation.

"This could be nothing more than a coincidence," DeRose said. "We are in communication with Mesa and Maricopa County."

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