Search On Hold For Valley Murder Suspect

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Despite reports that murder suspect Robert Fisher was cornered in a cave near Young Friday, police are no closer this week to finding the man they think killed his wife and two children before blowing up his Scottsdale home.

Crews stopped searching the wilderness north of Young Monday morning after spending the weekend searching for the murder suspect.

Fisher has eluded officers since his house exploded in south Scottsdale April 10. That explosion was intended to cover up the murder of Mary Fisher, who was shot in the back of the head, and her children Brittney and Bobby, whose throats were slashed, police have said.

Gila County Sheriff's Det. Brian Havey said Rim country officers began looking for Fisher Friday afternoon, when they were alerted by Scottsdale police that the suspect's vehicle was spotted off of Forest Road 512 north of Young.

"Apparently, there was some delay," Havey said. "The initial call went to Scottsdale around 10 a.m., from someone who spotted Fisher and his dog standing near Fisher's vehicle. We didn't get the call until a little bit after noon."

Havey said he got to Young around 2 p.m., and was the first officer in the area. By then, it was already too late. Officers found Fisher's 2000 Toyota 4-Runner, and his Queensland heeler, Blue, but there was no sign of the suspect.

The dog was captured by local veterinarian Patti Blackmore, and was treated for porcupine punctures.

Thinking Fisher might be hiding out in one of the dozens of caves in the area, Havey said about 100 officers from Scottsdale, Gila and Coconino counties and the Arizona Department of Public Safety swarmed the area, forming a dragnet. They continued their search throughout the weekend, even during the snowstorm that hit the Rim country Saturday night.

Officers searched the caves and sent in cadaver dogs, speculating that the suspect may have committed suicide or died in one of the caves. Still, no clues were found.

"We were physically present there from Friday afternoon until late Monday morning," Gila County Sheriff John Armer said. "In all, we've spent 4,500 manhours searching for Fisher. As of Monday, we pulled off of the search. As far as we're concerned, the probability of him being in that area is so low that we're not looking anymore."

Havey said another Fisher sighting was reported earlier last week, when a Bashas' employee spotted a man matching Fisher's description shopping there. The 40-year-old suspect is described as a white male, 6-feet tall, weighing 190 pounds with very short hair.

"I went down and looked at surveillance tapes," the detective said. "We can see a person on there that could be Fisher, but the tape is a little grainy, so it's hard to tell. The person on the tape is also with another subject, which could mean that it's not him."

With no solid leads in the case, Armer said his officers will continue to follow up on any alleged sighting of the murder suspect.

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