Beaver Valley Holds Memorial For Annie Friesen

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Nearly 100 people turned out Sunday afternoon to honor Annie Friesen, who died last week at her home in Beaver Valley.

Those attending the hour-long service, held at the Beaver Valley Fire District's fire station, included 10 members of Mrs. Friesen's family, including children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Rev. Joe Losalandra, pastor of the Whispering Pines Baptist Church and Rev. David Greene, a chaplain for several fire and police departments also participated in the memorial.

Detective George Ratliff of the Gila County Sheriff's Office shared details of the on-going investigation into Friesen's death, and addressed security concerns of community members. He said Friesen was killed by Mitchel Bell, 46, a transient who had been living along the East Verde River, not far from Beaver Valley. Ratliff said Bell knocked at the Friesen's door Monday afternoon (June 30), said his car had broken down and asked to use the phone. When he returned the phone, he pulled a hunting knife and threatened Ray Friesen, tied him up and robbed him, then went to the couple's bedroom and killed Mrs. Friesen.

When Ray Friesen heard his wife scream, he broke loose from the bonds, got his gun, and shot Bell.

Ratliff said there never has been any consideration of filing charges against Friesen, who might well have been a victim, too, if he had not taken that action he did in self defense.

"We're still checking on Bell's past," said Ratliff, who said Bell left a note in his vehicle -- recovered in Coconino County -- saying it should be returned to GMAC because he could no longer afford it.

In answer to questions from those attending, Ratliff said Bell was operating alone.

He also noted that Beaver Valley residents could help protect others in the community by contacting the sheriff's office any time there appears to be suspicious activity or strangers at a neighbor's house.

Ratliff suggested setting up a block watch to enhance community safety

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