- Associated Press - Friday, August 28, 2015

FLORENCE, Ariz. (AP) - A Phoenix-area couple found murdered and buried in a yard two months ago both had amphetamines and methamphetamine in their systems, according to autopsy and toxicology reports released Friday.

The Pinal County Office of the Medical Examiner released the reports on 44-year-old Michael Careccia and his 43-year-old wife, Tina, that said both were homicide victims and had a gunshot wound to the head.

The toxicology report also showed Tina Careccia had tranquilizers and sleeping pills in her system and both she and her husband had traces of alcohol.

The suspect accused of killing the couple told investigators that he and the Careccias used meth together and he was high on the drug when he allegedly shot them.

The couple was reported missing on June 22 after Tina Careccia never showed up to her job at a construction company.

Their abandoned car later was found covered in dirt about a half-mile from their home in Maricopa, about 35 miles south of Phoenix.

Family and friends spent a week searching the desert for them before county sheriff’s deputies interviewed Jose Ignacio Valenzuela. The deputies said statements he made led them to search his Maricopa property.

The bodies of the airline pilot and his accountant wife were discovered in a 6-foot-deep grave, according to investigators who also found a .22-caliber revolver believed to be the murder weapon.

They said Valenzuela, 38, borrowed a backhoe from an unsuspecting acquaintance to hide the bodies.

Valenzuela told investigators that he and the Careccias had been acquainted for the past two years and used methamphetamine together.

Last month, Valenzuela was indicted on two counts of first-degree murder by a grand jury. Prosecutors still are deciding whether to seek the death penalty.

James Mannato, a county public defender who is representing Valenzuela, didn’t immediately return a call Friday for comment on the case.

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