UPDATE: Authorities say kidnapping ended in brutal murder, dismemberment in Tucson

John Anthony Cole is facing several charges in the death of Antoine Smith
John Anthony Cole, of Tucson, is facing several charges in connection with a Phoenix kidnapping...
John Anthony Cole, of Tucson, is facing several charges in connection with a Phoenix kidnapping and murder case.(Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 7:09 PM MST|Updated: Sep. 22, 2022 at 11:42 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A Phoenix kidnapping ended with a brutal murder and dismemberment in Tucson, according to authorities.

John Anthony Cole, of Tucson, is facing charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping, theft by extortion and concealment of a body.

Investigators from the Phoenix Police Department said the 45-year-old Cole admitted to the crime and led them to at least parts of the victim’s body.

On Sept. 16, Cole allegedly kidnapped Antoine Smith from his Phoenix home and the two then drove to Tucson. Cole claimed Smith owed him money.

During that drive, Cole said he pulled off Interstate 10 in a rural part of Pima County to use the bathroom.

Cole claimed that is when the 28-year-old Smith attacked him. Cole said he was able to put Smith in a submission hold before strangling him.

Cole said he took Smith’s body to his home, located in the 5900 block of East Third Street in Tucson.

Investigators said Cole spent the next few days buying cleaning, masking and other supplies to dismember Smith’s body.

The PPD said Cole told them where he dumped the body but refused to provide a DNA sample.

On Sept. 20, Cole was arrested by Arizona DPS while driving to California. Cole was on Interstate 10 near Quartzsite when he was located. Authorities said portions of Smith’s body were found in the vehicle. A source told KOLD is was Smith’s head and hands.

KOLD was at a crime scene at South Kolb Road and East Sycamore Park Boulevard late Wednesday, Sept. 21. Our reporter saw several unmarked police vehicles in the area along with caution tape.

KOLD then reached out to PPD about the scene and was told it was part of an ongoing investigation.

It wasn’t until Thursday morning that KOLD confirmed that the scene is connected to the kidnapping and homicide.

In 2003, Cole was sentenced to more than 15 years in federal prison for possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

According to the Pima County Superior Court, Cole is also facing aggravated assault and aggravated harassment charges from an incident early this year.