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Pizza Hut Murders: Still haunting 20 years later

One killer is set for release in eight years.
Posted at 1:24 PM, May 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-23 01:35:17-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - Two killers---three people killed.

Twenty years after two young murderers shot and killed the staff of a Pizza Hut near Broadway and Pantano the murders still spark strong memories for families and friends left behind.

Building owners demolished the Pizza Hut building soon after Bob Curry, Liza Moniz and James Bloxham were gunned down there.

Three trees stand on the site in their memory.

Restaurant owner Brent Kyte says it didn't seem right to do business there anymore.

“And I received 50 letters in the mail, saying, okay, don't let those bad guys prevail, show them your stamina, and open that restaurant back up. I also received 50 letters that say, hey, the right thing to do in memory of those folks is to close the restaurant."

He says before the murders there was a plan to move to a new building but not before the lease ran out.

Even though the Pizza Hut building is gone and new stores are in place, the store still stands in the mind of Bob Curry's sister Kathy.

"And there's still times when I drive by there. And even though the landscape has changed the Circle K looks different. You still visualize that crime scene tape and all the flashing lights."

For Bob Curry's wife Deb it's not the location, it's the sight and sound of police cars rushing to the disaster that slammed into someone else's life.

"It's like, oh, my God now who've somebody else is going to go through if there's three cop cars responding, how big of a problem is that? You know, and who's affected by that?”

Brent Kyte is grateful for the help of his security chief, a retired Tucson Police Chief who helped him as he met with the victim families.

“Mike Ulichny, the former Police Chief got up and said, 'Brent, I've done a lot of these before, I'll go with you."

The killings brought so much national attention Brent Kyte says Pizza Hut corporate flew in a Public Relations specialist to handle reporter questions and free him to concentrate on the families.

But the case still can not rest. Tom Prasertphong is serving life in prison but Bo Huerstel is due for release in eight years. He pleaded guilty to second degree murder in return for the shorter sentence.

Prosecutor Rick Unklesbay thinks murders like the ones at Pizza Hut spark a special fear because they were so very random.

“This isn't somebody who knew the defendant and got into an argument with him. And these were innocent victims just doing their jobs. And they're victims of these random killings. So I think, in that sense, it it has an effect on the community when you know, you know that it wasn't anything that victims did, it was totally random. And it could be anybody."