9OYS Investigation

Killer released from prison

Man responsible for double-murder walks out of prison after serving 20 years

CREATED Jul 11, 2011

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Reporter: Ian Reitz

ELFRIDA, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Twenty years after a brutal double murder in Elfrida, one of the men responsible for the crimes has been released from prison.

In 1991, two teenage girls, Mandy Meyers and Mary Snyder, were brutally raped, beaten and murdered. Their bodies were then thrown down an abandoned mine shaft.

Richard Stokley and Randy Brazeal were both arrested. Stokley was convicted on both sexual assault and murder charges and received the death penalty. Brazeal plead guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 20-years in prison. DNA evidence that tied Brazeal to the crime was never used because the case did not go to trial. Subsequently, he was never convicted of a sex crime.

On July 2, 2011 Brazeal was released from the prison in Buckeye.

His release marked the end of a lengthy battle for Patty Hancock, the mother of Mandy Meyers.

"We shouldn't have to bury our children. I shouldn't have had to out live my daughter," said Hancock.

Hancock, along with the Cochise County Attorney's office, had pushed for Brazeal to be civilly committed as a sexually violent predator. The Department of Corrections ordered the evaluation under Arizona Revised Statute 36-3702 (B).

County Attorney Ed Rheinheimer told 9 On Your Side that Brazeal refused to take part in the process. His refusal meant that the initial evaluation was completed based solely on his case and his record.

"It's not automatically enough to determine that someone continues to be a sexually violent person just because they committed a sexually violent act at some point in the past," said Rheinheimer.

On May 17th, 2011, the Arizona Department of Corrections sent a letter notifying the Cochise County Attorney's Office that the psychologist who made the initial evaluation did not find enough evidence to warrant a second evaluation. That meant the civil commitment process could not move forward and Brazeal's release on July 2, 2011 was guaranteed.

"He'll never have to answer for it again. He can do whatever he wants and live where he wants. It's just not fair," said Hancock.

Hancock tells 9 On Your Side she and her family may eventually move out of Arizona if Brazeal decides to return to Elfrida.