Aspenite wanted on murder charges |

Aspenite wanted on murder charges

Rick Carroll
Aspen Correspondent
Aspen CO, Colorado

ASPEN, Colorado ” Authorities in Arizona have issued a warrant for the arrest of Aspen socialite Pamela Phillips in connection to the car-bombing death of her ex-husband 12 years ago.

Pima County (Tucson, Ariz.) Sheriff Clarence Dupnik also announced Friday at a press conference that Ronald Young, 66, was arrested earlier that morning in Yorba Linda, Calif., on charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and first-degree murder. Phillips faces the same charges.

Authorities believe Phillips paid Young $400,000 to kill her ex-husband, Gary Triano, on Nov. 1, 1996, so she could collect on a $2 million life insurance policy. Phillips and Triano, who was a real estate investor and developer, divorced in 1993.

At the sheriff’s news conference, portions of which were posted via video on the Arizona Star newspaper’s website, Dupnik said it is believed that Phillips, 51, is no longer in the country. The Star reported Friday that authorities suspect she went to Milan, Italy, on Sept. 26.

“We are in the process of looking for a suspect by the name of Pamela Phillips, who is the former wife of Gary Triano and who is a resident of Aspen, Colorado, but we have information she is out of the United States at this time,” Dupnik said at the press conference.

Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis said local authorities were contacted Thursday evening about the issuance of the warrant for Phillips’ arrest. Braudis said he was told then that seven to eight deputies from Pima County had been conducting surveillance on Phillips’ home since Tuesday. Braudis questioned the Pima County Sheriff’s decision not to tell local authorities that out-of-state deputies had been in town earlier in the week.

For years both Phillips and Young had been under a cloud of suspicion in the death of Triano, who was killed when his Lincoln Town Car exploded in the parking lot at the La Paloma Country Club in Tucson, Ariz. He was 52.

“The force of the explosion tore the roof off the vehicle and propelled the windshield over the tops of forty-foot tall trees and into a swimming pool over seventy feet away,” said a news release issued yesterday by the Pima County Sheriff’s Office. “The scene investigation discovered debris in a five-hundred foot radius around the vehicle. It was determined that Mr. Triano was seated in his vehicle with all four doors closed when the device detonated.”

Although Phillips and Young were considered persons of interest shortly after the crime, law-enforcement officials had little evidence to go by. Young originally was connected to the murder after police in California found weapons, a map of Tucson, and divorce papers for Triano and Phillips in a car Young rented in Aspen. The car had been abandoned in the Los Angeles area shortly before Triano’s death.

While the evidence was apparently not enough to charge Young, officials continued to investigate. And in September 2006, Pima County Sheriff’s deputies, federal agents and officers from the Aspen Police Department raided Phillips’ Meadowood Drive home, carrying away nine computers, discs and other items.

The method used to gather the evidence resulted in a legal battle in Pitkin County District Court, where Phillips’ two Denver attorneys ” Pamela Mackey and Joseph Saint Veltri ” contended that her property was illegally seized. They argued for the return of the seized property from the Pima County Sheriff’s Office to Phillips. Judge James Boyd denied their request.

Mackey said Friday that she no longer represents Phillips. Saint Veltri declined to make a comment about the recent developments.

Young, who is suspected of putting inside the car the pipe-bomb that killed Triano, also has ties to Aspen. He was indicted on embezzling money from Aspen residents in 1996, but left Colorado shortly before the issuing of his warrant.

Young was arrested in Florida on Nov. 21, 2005, two days after “America’s Most Wanted” aired a feature on him in connection to the Aspen warrant and the Triano murder. Young was subsequently extradited to Aspen to face felony fraud charges, but Judge Boyd dismissed the counts in December 2006 because he said the local case was based on hearsay and lacked enough hard evidence to go to trial.

Even though Young was let go, Sheriff Dupnik said it helped in the investigation.

“It was the result of that arrest that brought in the mounds of evidence that ultimately resulted in this case being successfully completed,” he said at the press conference.

He added: “Had it not been for ‘America’s Most Wanted’ we would still be investigating this case.”

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