Police confirm identities of bodies found in backyard coffin - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Police confirm identities of bodies found in backyard coffin

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Philmon Tapaha and Brandi Hoffner Philmon Tapaha and Brandi Hoffner
PHOENIX -

New details have been released after two bodies were found buried in a coffin in the backyard of a Phoenix home near 16th Street and Indian School Road.

For almost two years, the victims' families have waited for answers -- and on Thursday, police confirmed what they'd feared.

Philmon Tapaha and Brandi Hoffner have been missing since July 2011.  Police confirmed that their bodies were found in the makeshift coffin.

"This loss...they took my best friend, they took an aunt, they took a daughter, they took a mother," said Brandi's sister, Christine Phillips.

Christine says Brandi was the mother of three.  An 8, 5 and 4-year-old. 

According to court records, police believe Alan Champagne killed the couple.  Champagne was in a relationship with Philmon's sister.  Police say Champagne, who has a long criminal record, got angry at Philmon and killed him and Brandi.

"She was just fun, happy, loving, compassionate, kind-hearted mom, sister, friend," said Christine.

Brandi was adopted by a pastor in North Carolina.  Friends say she came to Arizona to find her birth parents.

Police believe Champagne killed her and her boyfriend in an apartment, then buried them in a coffin in his parents' backyard.  Police suspected Champagne for years, but couldn't find the bodies -- a landscaper found them on Tuesday.

"I miss hearing her sing, I miss hearing her laugh. Her laugh could brighten up any room and she's not got the opportunity to even know that her 5-year-old has her laugh," said Christine.

Champagne is being held on a $1 million dollar bond.  He refused to talk to investigators about what happened.

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