Payson Mayor Ken Murphy spent Sunday night in jail, booked on charges of disorderly conduct/domestic violence and threatening and intimidating/domestic violence.
The charges were made by Payson police after responding to a 911 call at the mayor’s house on West Rim View Road at 12:30 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 10.
The call came from Julie Barcom, Murphy’s fiancee, who told the 911 operator the mayor was throwing her things out of the house, before the call was cut short, according to Police Chief Gordon Gartner
Barcom now says the call was a mistake, made in the heat of an ordinary argument.
“I just got mad and was not thinking straight. I didn’t feel in danger,” Barcom said in an interview with the Roundup Monday.
“Basically it was a family squabble that got out of hand,” Murphy said Tuesday morning. “We both feel real bad about it. We’re going to work on our relationship and learn to communicate better. We’re going to counseling. We love each other. We’re good friends. It was just something that was a private family squabble.”
“It was just yelling. People say things that are hurtful,” he said. “We both work hard and she is going to school full-time. Unfortunately when you are in the public eye, everyone wants to know your personal business.”
Barcom said she and Murphy had been arguing Saturday night and it continued Sunday morning. While there was no physical abuse involved, one witness said she heard Murphy tell Barcom, “If you were within arm’s length I would slap you across the face.” Barcom confirmed the comment in the police report.
In addition to calling the police, Barcom also called her parents, Marian and Gerald Foster, asking them to come to the house with a trailer, so she could get her things out of the house. She also called friends, asking them to bring boxes so she could pack her belongings, according to police reports.
The argument Saturday night, Nov. 9, was about whether Murphy would accompany Barcom and her friends to dinner. “I left and went to a bar, which made him mad at me,” she said.
She said she came home later in the evening, did not see Murphy and went to bed.
Her daughters, 17 and 14, told police a different story in their statements.
The younger of the girls told officers she heard Barcom and Murphy fighting around 3:30 a.m., Sunday.
The older daughter told police, when she came home from seeing a movie, around 1:45 a.m., she heard her mother on the phone with a friend, planning what she was going to do if Murphy started fighting when he came home.
The girl said she heard her mother call Murphy at about 2 a.m. to find out when he was coming home. The argument continued on the phone.
Murphy said alcohol was not involved, but one of the arresting officers stated he “could smell an intoxicating beverage coming from his mouth and he did have red, watery eyes. I also noted mood swings with Murphy, which would go from very aggressive to very mild ... and then go to aggressive and crying.”
Another officer also noted the smell of alcohol on the mayor’s breath.
Responding to the call Sunday morning, Sgt. Don Garvin and Officers Henry Thomason and Allen Dyer did not find Barcom at the Murphy residence and Murphy refused to let the officers into the house. They made entry due to the nature of the 911 call and were told by Barcom’s younger daughter that her mother had taken her brother and cousin to the bowling alley.
Barcom’s parents arrived at about the same time the police did. In her statement, Marian Foster, Barcom’s mother, said, “Ken would not let them into the house to check on her three grandchildren that were there.”
Officer Dyer went to the police station to arrange for written statements. When he returned, Officer Garvin said Murphy left the scene on an ATV, so Barcom could collect her belongings. He went into the backyard to see if he could detect an ATV in the area.
“From my right rear I heard a male voice say, ‘Hi, Dyer. I could have shot you, but you have already been shot.’ I turned to see Ken Murphy sitting down behind a small bush behind the house, obviously listening to the conversations between Sgt. Garvin, Ms. Barcom and others present,” Dyer wrote in his report.
Murphy said the comment to Dyer was not a threat.
“I was sitting in the backyard waiting for everyone to leave. I just wanted to let him know I was there. If I was a bad guy, he could have gotten hurt.”
Dyer was shot on the job in October 1999 at the old Wal-Mart.
Dyer said he called for Garvin to join him at the rear of the house where Murphy was arrested for domestic violence and handcuffed without incident.
The officer said that, as the sergeant was preparing to search Murphy, the mayor told Dyer he had only been kidding about the shooting comment.
Barcom said she regretted calling the police, and told them it was a mistake. She said police had promised her they would just talk to Murphy to see what was going on. She said the police said they were not going to arrest the mayor.
“They would not let it go. I didn’t want to have him arrested. It was a mistake. But as soon as (officers approached Murphy the second time), they put the handcuffs on him. They didn’t take the time to talk to him,” Barcom said.
Barcom said while she was getting her clothes, Garvin was on the phone with the police chief at least five times. Barcom said that disturbed her.
“Any faith I have in the police department is now gone since that wasn’t very honest,” Barcom said.
Chief Gartner said he advised officers to follow the same procedures they would on any domestic violence call.
“Sgt. Garvin told me he followed the same protocol that he has on any other domestic violence call that he has handled,” Gartner said. “I think he had probable cause to make the arrest. I think it was the right call.”
“I’d like to think a person is innocent until proven guilty,” Murphy said.
Asked if he thinks the incident will have any repercussions with the town council, he said, “I have no idea.”
August 2000 - Ken Murphy’s ex-wife, Nancy, filed a complaint against him which led to charges of disorderly conduct, two counts of phone harassment and one count of e-mail harassment. The case was transferred to Apache Junction where Murphy was allowed to enter a deferred prosecution program, which included orders to attend screening for anger management, domestic violence and/or alcohol abuse and any recommended counseling. The case was dismissed in November 2001 after Murphy successfully completed the program.
August 2002 - Murphy allegedly had an encounter with Fire Marshal Jack Babb, the incident, which could lead to charges, is currently being investigated by the Special Investigations Unit of the Arizona Department of Public Safety.