Mesa police: Arrest made in woman's murder - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

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Mesa police: Arrest made in woman's murder

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Crime scene near 2nd Ave. and Pomeroy in Mesa. (Source: KPHO-TV) Crime scene near 2nd Ave. and Pomeroy in Mesa. (Source: KPHO-TV)
Travis Lafel Zah (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office) Travis Lafel Zah (Source: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Jean Banks (Source: KPHO-TV) Jean Banks (Source: KPHO-TV)
Lawrence Gallegos (Source: KPHO-TV) Lawrence Gallegos (Source: KPHO-TV)
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MESA, AZ (CBS5) -

Mesa police say they've arrested the suspect in the brutal death of a woman believed to be in her early 20s.

Mesa police said Travis Lafel Zah, 35, has been booked on one count of second-degree murder.

"You can't prepare yourself for stuff like that," said Lawrence Gallegos as he reflected on what he saw.

Gallegos said he walked out of his house to a horrific scene - a man savagely beating a young woman in a field across the street.

It happened just after 10 a.m. Thursday in a residential neighborhood near Second Avenue and Pomeroy.

"He was on top of her, pretty much just strangling her and hitting her head towards the ground," Gallegos said.

He told CBS 5 News he yelled for the man to stop and warned him he had called the police.

At that point, Gallegos said the woman escaped - stumbling across the street to his neighbor's lawn where she collapsed.

"I noticed she had a gash in her throat," he said. "And I pretty much just tried to cover the hole."

While Gallegos applied pressure to the wound, his neighbor Jean Banks, a retired nurse, performed CPR.

During that time, she said the suspect stood in the street watching them.

"He was too busy talking to somebody on the phone saying that, 'She did it, she did it herself, she did it herself,'" Banks said.

Sadly, the valiant efforts to save the woman's life failed.

"It's hurtful," Gallegos said. "It's hard to see a grown man, my size, beat on a smaller female."

Banks said it looked like the woman had been stabbed.

But police aren't confirming how she died.

Meanwhile, detectives took several bags found in a nearby field into evidence.

Police confirmed they recovered a knife but didn't say whether it's linked to the victim's death.

Police are withholding the identity of the victim until her family has been notified.

Police said Zah and the victim knew each other but did not elaborate.

Stay with cbs5az.com for updates on this developing story.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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