Man arrested in death of missing AZ MMA fighter

by Jamar Younger
October 22, 2011

27-year-old Arizona professional mixed martial arts fighter and Rage in the Cage veteran Todd M. Whitzel was last seen at a little neighborhood bar called “The Wagon Wheel” in Picture Rocks, Ariz., a subdivision on the outskirts of Tucson, at closing time Thursday evening, May 12, 2011 ... or into very early Friday, May 13, 2011

Whitzel was involved in an altercation at the bar and was told to leave. His friend Nick and he both exted the bar. Whitzel was involved in an altercation with two men outside the bar, when a group of men from inside came out and joined in. At this point, apparently a gun was pulled by a friend of Whitzel’s to keep the crowd at bay, giving Whitzel time enough to escape on his 2007 Harley Davidson Dyna Low Rider motorcycle, with his friend on the back.

According to the friend Nick, Whitzel dropped him off at his home about four minutes away. He asked Whitzel to stay but he declined and said he needed to go. That was the last anyone has seen or heard from Todd Whitzel.

His girlfriend made a call to his mobile phone at 3:01 a.m. early Friday morning, May 13. The phone was answered and she stayed on the call for 23 minutes calling out for Whitzel but all she could hear was the motorcycle, until finally, the bike shut off and she heard a dog bark but there was still no response.

She hung up and repeatedly tried to call back to no avail until around 5:30 a.m. when either Whitzel’s phone was shut off or the battery went dead.

No further sign of Whitzler was found fro two weeks when two men out shooting guns in the desert came across Todd's 2007 Harley Davidson motorcycle. It was turned on it's side and completely torched. 

Now word comes that a suspect has been arrested, and a body found.

A 23-year-old man was arrested Thursday in connection with the death of a Marana man who had been missing since May, authorities said.

Nick Phillip Rogers was booked into the Pima County jail on suspicion of first-degree murder after authorities connected him to the death of Todd Mike Whitzel, 27, said Deputy Dawn Barkman, a Pima County Sheriff's Department spokeswoman.

Whitzel's family reported him missing to the Marana Police Department on May 15, Barkman said in a news release.

Detectives recently received information that led them to believe Whitzel was slain. Detectives went to an area near the 8000 block of North Razorback Road in Avra Valley Wednesday, and found what they believe to be Whitzel's remains.

Detectives continue to investigate, but did not provide details on the cause of death because of the investigation.

According to a search warrant affidavit, detectives received information that Whitzel might have been shot and his body burned in the desert.

No other arrests have been made.

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It is unknown if the Nick Phillip Rogers who was arrested is the same Nick who said he had driven him home after the fracas.