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Pizza Hut Murders: Families cope 20 years later

Survivors look ahead to honor memories
Posted at 12:29 PM, May 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-22 21:24:56-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - It was a botched and brutal robbery that left three dead. The murders at the Pizza Hut that once stood near Broadway and Pantano still haunt Tucsonans, twenty years later.

Kathy Weir remembers the phone call. It came at 1:15 in the morning.

“And I answer it, and I hear there's three victims that, no there's two victims inside, and they're both dead. And I was getting ready to say, I'm sorry, you have the wrong number. And I realized it was my sister in law. And she was calling from the Circle K next to the Pizza Hut, letting me know that there had been a murder there that evening.”

She says police did not confirm the IDs right away but she knew one of the victims had to be her brother Bob Curry. He was manager of the Pizza Hut, shot to death along with bus boy James Bloxham and waitress Lisa Moniz.

The memory of waiting outside, knowing what happened inside, still haunts Bob Curry's wife Deb.

“Because when I got there that night, you know, put the whole place was filled with cop cars with their lights flashing. So if I see a police car go by with the siren, I can feel my stress level go up. And if I see like three of them go by with lights on. I actually---a few years back, I was just standing on a corner at a light and getting ready to cross the street and some cop cars went through with their lights flashing, and I started crying."

She says it's the knowledge someone else may be about to learn the cost of sudden, violent, loss.

Bo Huerstel, 17 at the time and Tom Prasertphong, then 19, are both in prison now. Each claimed the other started the slaughter.

Kathy Weir thinks Huerstel was the instigator. But Prasertphong is in prison for life, while Huerstel is set for release in eight years.

After a long series of appeals, court decisions and retrials, death penalties were dropped. Huerstel got a lighter sentence by pleading guilty to second degree murder.

Kathy Weir feels Prasertphong showed remorse but Huerstel never has.

She says, “He was a sociopath when he was 17. He is a sociopath now. And I would say to this day, he never accepts responsibility. He lives in his own little fantasy world of what happened. And he probably views himself as a victim."

Kevin Kinsey remembers his sister Lisa Moniz as such a kind person---cut down in a burst of cruelty. He says he wishes both Huerstel and Prasertphong had been sentenced to death but spends more time in business, and life, reflecting the kindness he learned from his sister.

"My whole life has been built around that, what happened there, and using that negative as a positive. To try to better my own life, using that as a strength as, you know, a son a brother a father, friend."

Deb Curry says she's only talked publicly about the murders once before this. She feels others pull away from hearing such a personal pain. She moves forward powered by her husband's example of trying to do good in the world.

"You know, you see so many people who are angry and bitter about things," she said. "And I see people like that, and I just think your life---you're just making yourself sick, and you're going down a really negative dark path. And, you know, for me, I mean, I everybody's free to make their own choice about how they deal with pain. But for me, it was like Bob was a positive person, and he touch people's lives positively. And I can't honor his memory, if I don't do the same."