Coconino County Sheriff’s Office investigators have determined that Michael Wyffels' family had a home near the 87-year-old man he allegedly killed and left on the side of State Route 89A in Oak Creek.

Wyffels has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, which include first-degree murder, kidnapping, and theft of the elderly man’s car and credit card. The medical examiner’s autopsy showed Alan Arvey of Sun City, 15 miles east of Phoenix, died of blunt force trauma to the head before he was found on the switchbacks of Oak Creek. Wyffel’s bond is currently set at $3 million.

What started as an unidentified body found near a car on the Oak Creek switchbacks built momentum once Arvey was identified, according to Gerrit Boeck, lead investigator with the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office. However, investigators hit a roadblock when Wyffels said he would not sit for an interview with detectives.

Wyffels and Arvey were both recorded on multiple surveillance cameras between Oak Creek and Sun City, Boeck said. Wyffels was also spotted on surveillance using Arvey's credit card and car in Utah, Idaho and ending in Oregon.

At this time, it is not clear why or how Arvey and Wyffels began traveling together.

"It's evident that Mr. Arvey wasn’t held at gunpoint," Boeck said, citing video footage.

Finding Arvey

After Arvey’s body was found on the afternoon of Aug. 17, he was not identified until a week later when Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office contacted Coconino County about a missing person.

Arvey’s step-son, who lived outside of Arizona, regularly called his step-father to check on him, Boeck said. The step-son had tried calling Arvey in Sun City in August but got no answer. After calling the Maricopa County sheriff, deputies checked on Arvey at his Sun City home on Aug. 20 and 21, according to a court warrant.

Deputies found the lights and fans running inside his home, but Arvey was no where to be found.

“This was unusual because Alan would not leave lights or the fan on if he was not home,” investigators wrote in a sheriff’s warrant, citing information from Arvey’s step-son.

Boeck explained that their discussions with the victim's family showed that Arvey was a man of habit who in his old age had difficulty moving around. Arvey rarely went beyond three restaurants and a grocery store within 2 miles of his home, and would have to sit down if he walked from the front to the back of larger grocery stores.

After learning Arvey’s identity through Maricopa deputies, Coconino deputies tracked Arvey's card movements and found the card was used in Prescott.

“Given his physical state, at that point [his movements] appeared pretty suspicious,” Boeck said.

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Investigators eventually used ATM recordings to identify Wyffels, who was allegedly seen with Arvey in Prescott. Deputies allege that after the two left Prescott, Wyffels killed the elderly victim.

After learning of Wyffels' identity, deputies scoured through databases to learn more information on the victim. Wyffels’s name appeared at an address on the same block as Arvey in Sun City, Boeck said.

Wyffels had been released from prison on aggravated assault charges on Aug. 16, a day before Arvey was found dead in Oak Creek, according to the Arizona Department of Corrections.

In late August, Wyffels was arrested in the area of Portland, Ore., with Arvey's vehicle in a parking lot near where Wyffels was staying, according to court records. In order to extradite him to Coconino County, the sheriff's office fashioned a warrant to determine probable cause.

"Michael Wyffels was the last person to be seen with Alan Arvey alive," deputies wrote in the signed warrant. "Hours later, Alan Arvey was found dead with blunt force trauma to his head and his body was partially concealed in Oak Creek Canyon area."

Wyffels is now facing homicide charges in Flagstaff in front of Judge Mark Moran.

The Arizona Daily Sun reached out to Adam Cirzan, Wyffels' public defender, and Arvey's step-son, who did not respond for comment before press time.

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Scott Buffon can be reached at sbuffon@azdailysun.com, on Twitter @scottbuffon or by phone at (928) 556-2250.


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