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Daren Lee BOLTON





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape  - Habitual sex offender
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: 1982 / 1986
Date of arrest: 1990
Date of birth: September 9, 1966
Victims profile: Cathy Fritz (female,7) / Zosha Lee Pickett (female, 2)
Method of murder: Stabbing with knife
Location: Pima County, Arizona, USA
Status: Executed by lethal injection in Arizona on June 19, 1996

On the night of June 27, 1986, Bolton kidnapped the 2 1/2-year-old victim from a bedroom in her parents' house in Tucson. He took her to an abandoned taxi cab, undressed her, stabbed her in the chest once, and redressed her. Bolton left her to bleed to death, and her body was discovered on July 1, 1986, by some boys who were playing in the area.

Bolton became a prime suspect in the Pickett case in November 1990, when authorities in Illinois, using that state's automated fingerprint-indexing system, matched Bolton's prints to those found on a window at the Pickett home and in the abandoned vehicle.

Tucson police had sent the prints in 1987 to all states that use the fingerprint-matching system, which Arizona does not have.

Bolton's prints were on file in Illinois because of assault convictions in 1984 and 1985 in Champaign.

The match occurred during a training session for Illinois State Police officers, according to court documents.

Bolton by then was serving a prison term in Arizona on unrelated charges of kidnapping, sexual abuse and indecent exposure.

After Bolton was charged with Zosha's murder, detectives linked him to the 1982 sexual assault and slaying of 7-year-old Cathy Fritz of Tucson. He had been charged with Cathy's death, too.

Bolton was in prison in 1990 for sexual abuse and kidnapping when a chance matching of fingerprints linked him to Zosha's murder.

Court documents say Bolton's childhood was a nightmare.

As a boy, he was shunted between his two divorced, unhappy, unstable parents. His mother would make him sit up all night watching television with her, beating him with a strap when drifted off to sleep. Once she nearly killed him with a knife.

Bolton's father referred to the boy as a loser and told him he would amount to nothing. Bolton said his dad communicated best with his fists, and he introduced the boy early to alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.

When young Bolton brought home a report card with two As, one B, a C and a D, his dad praised him for the As and B, then beat him for the C and D, pushing the boy's head through a plaster wall.

By the time Bolton dropped out of school in the 11th grade, he had a string of assault charges.

When Bolton was a teen, a court psychologist wrote that the youth was suicidal.

The psychologist quoted him at the time as saying, "I haven't succeeded in killing myself yet, but will some day."


Presiding Judge: William L. Scholl
Prosecutor:  Kathleen Mayer
Start of Trial: October 28, 1992
Verdict: November 12, 1992
Sentencing: February 22, 1993

Aggravating Circumstances
    Victim under age 15
    Especially heinous, cruel or depraved

Mitigating Circumstances


State v. Bolton___, Ariz.__, 896 P.2d 830 (1995).


Arizona Department of Corrections "Death Row" Web site
"Profiles of Arizona Death Row Inmates," Arizona Attorney General's Office
The Arizona Republic archives


Last Meal

None Specified

Final words



Killer of 2-Year-Old Is Executed in Arizona

The New York Times

June 20, 1996

A man was executed by lethal injection here early today for the kidnapping and murder of a 2-year-old girl.

The condemned prisoner, Daren Lee Bolton, a 29-year-old habitual sex offender, had consistently maintained his innocence but shunned all appeals, saying he would rather die than spend the rest of his life behind bars. Mr. Bolton was sentenced to death in 1993 after being found guilty of kidnapping and murdering the little girl, Zosha Lee Pickett, seven years earlier. Zosha had been abducted from her bedroom at her Tucson home, taken to an abandoned taxicab two blocks away, raped and then stabbed and left to die.

The prisoner was executed shortly after midnight in the death house of the state prison complex here about 60 miles southeast of Phoenix.

At his death, he was awaiting trial in the murder of another young girl.



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