Three years after the death of a Deer Creek woman from a gunshot wound, Gila County Sheriff’s Deputies have arrested her former boyfriend and charged him with second-degree murder, domestic violence and endangerment.
On Dec. 2 deputies arrested Lance Patrick Gomez, 41, in Prescott Valley for the May 11, 2007 murder of Enessa S. Hamilton, 31, who at that time lived in Deer Creek, a small, rural subdivision just north of the Roosevelt Lake turnoff.
Deputies booked Gomez into the Gila County jail in Payson where he will be held without bail.
At the time of her death, Hamilton lived with Gomez in a rented house in Deer Creek, according to a press release issued by the Sheriff’s Office on Thursday.
Hamilton’s obituary ran in the Roundup on May 17, 2007 and said she was a cashier at the Payson Walmart.
She was the daughter of Raymond and Kathleen Erwin and had a daughter and two sons. The obituary asked that memorial donations go to the Time Out Shelter in Payson, which provides sanctuary for women who are victims of domestic violence.
Evidence suggests that Hamilton’s friends believed she was murdered from the start.
For instance, a friend in 2007 on MySpace posted the following comment:
“It is so hard to realize that a friend is gone. I mean to actually get to the point in the grieving process where it’s reality is crisp and clear. My dear friend Enessa will never be forgotten, nor will her death go unnoticed. Domestic violence is a very serious matter. She was murdered by the one she loved, though it is not proven. I know the truth, I don’t need any proof to what really happened. I believe in a better place of peace and of love.....rest well Enessa.”
Court records include a record of a search warrant for Lance Patrick Gomez’s home immediately after Hamilton’s death. The court records also include 20 different court cases since 2004 in Payson, Camp Verde, Prescott municipal court and Yavapai County superior court. Most involved traffic offenses, but several cases involved criminal cases and probation violations dating back to before Hamilton’s death in 2007. The record also includes a divorce decree from Robin Gomez in 2004.
The release from the Sheriff’s Office provided only sketchy details of the investigation, and did not include why sheriff’s investigators waited three years before making an arrest and what evidence prompted the eventual murder charge.
Sheriff John Armer did not return calls prior to press time.
A spokesman at the Payson sheriff’s office said he had no further details on the case and that the lead investigator was on vacation.
Contacted at home, the lead investigator said the delay had been caused by the need to get the results of laboratory analysis, and then hung up.
The release from the sheriff’s office said that in 2007, the initial call to officers at 7:25 a.m. indicated Hamilton had committed suicide with a gun.
Investigators responded and photographed the scene, gathered statements from the neighbors and interviewed Gomez.
The release said that “investigators suspected that everything was not as reported” and so launched a full investigation. That included sending samples to laboratories for testing.
“Many interviews were conducted during the continuing investigation,” the release noted. The forensic examination was finally completed and the results sent to investigators.”