Widow of murdered Tempe man gets free pool fence

Eugene Scott
The Arizona Republic
Jun. 7, 2007 02:06 PM

A Tempe woman whose husband was killed in March just moved another step towards her future.

Lisa Verdugo won a pool fence from the Fulton Homes Fence Patrol Program Thursday. Fulton Homes partners with KMLE 108 and Ironman Pool Fence to give a pool fence to a family in need each week.

Lisa's husband Barney Verdugo was shot at Teakwoods Tavern and Grill in west Chandler in March. Lisa was three months pregnant at the time and Barney was the sole breadwinner for their family, which also includes her 10-year-old son, Kameron.

Recently, Lisa sent an e-mail to her friends and family asking them to put her in touch with people and companies that could help her start a daycare.

Isabel Kohnhorst, Barney's former co-worker, got the e-mail and contacted KMLE. She'd heard about the pool fence program on the radio.

"Barney wanted her to be able to stay home and I know she wanted to start a daycare, but couldn't afford a pool fence," Kohnhorst said. "This is very satisfying. It's what Barney would have wanted."

Lisa is now sixth months pregnant and has lined up several daycare clients. She is the first Tempean to receive a fence so far this summer.

Fulton Homes officials said the number of children that drown each summer due to a lack of fences is a major problem in the Valley.

"People know that they need them. But it's an affordability issue. It can cost from $1,500 to $5,000 dollars," said Amy Monier, spokesperson for Fulton Homes.

Melanie Santarius, KMLE account manager, said this program and others like it have helped decrease drowning deaths in the Valley since it began seven years ago. They are hoping to expand it.

"I wish we could help everybody," she said. "The numbers show that pool fences make a big differences."

Lisa said she is grateful because the fence has given her one less thing to worry about as she tries to move past Barney's death.

"I haven't gotten very far yet. It's hard every day to get out of bed," she said. "It's hard to function and every day is different. There's certain days when all I think about is the baby and I feel better and then I think about Barney and I feel horrible."

Barney was one of five shot at Teakwoods the night of March 14, but the only one to die. No arrests have been made.

The main suspect - Jaime Zamora Quihuis, 19, - has been missing since the killing. Quihis' girlfriend, Christina Deana Arzaga, 18, is also missing. Chandler police said they don't have much new information about the Guadalupe couple's whereabouts or any new leads.

"We're still looking for the missing girl and the person we'd like to talk to who we believe is connected," said Sgt Rick Griner, Chandler police spokesperson. "We would like to question them. Our detectives contact the family on a regular basis, but the family said the girl is still missing."

Like Lisa, Arzaga was three months pregnant at the time of Barney's death.

"If she is still as far along as I am, I hope she goes to an hospital to have her baby, so they can catch her," Lisa, now six months along, said. "I just hope someone turns them in, so that at least a family could have a little bit of closure."


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