Authorities say an ex-con awaiting sentencing after being convicted of killing a Phoenix couple more than 16 years ago has been found dead in a Tucson jail cell

Share story

TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — An ex-con awaiting sentencing in the 2002 killings of a Phoenix couple whose bodies have never been found has died in a Tucson jail, authorities said Sunday.

Pima County Sheriff’s officials said homicide detectives determined Brian Ferry’s death was a suicide.

Corrections officers found Ferry unresponsive in his jail cell at the county’s Adult Detention Complex around 1:30 a.m. Saturday and medical personnel pronounced him dead, according to sheriff’s officials who did not disclose the manner of death.

Ferry, 47, was found guilty May 16 of two counts of first-degree murder and court records show he was scheduled to be sentenced July 23.

Charles Russell, 58, and Catherine Nelson, 42, were last seen in early February 2002 when they traveled from Phoenix to Tucson to buy a vintage motorcycle from Ferry.

Tucson police later found the couple’s truck in a church parking lot.

County prosecutors said Ferry posted an advertisement for the motorcycle to lure the victims to his Tucson home and his DNA was found in the couple’s truck.

Ferry was arrested and charged in the case in January 2015.

His first trial ended in a mistrial four months ago when jurors couldn’t reach a verdict. Ferry’s second trial started in April.

Ferry was previously imprisoned in 2004 on a 3½-year sentence for auto theft and fraud convictions, according to Arizona Department of Corrections records.