JOSHUA TREE — A man was arrested Wednesday, Jan. 30, on suspicion of the murder of his wife, Christy Phipps, 35, at their home in the 61600 block of Alta Vista Drive.
Sheriff’s deputies were called to the couple’s home at midnight Wednesday on a report of a shooting that had just occurred, according to a sheriff’s department news release.
They found Phipps inside the home suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. Medical aid pronounced her dead at the scene.
Homicide investigators were called in and served a search warrant at the home. After interviewing Christy Phipps’ husband, 39-year-old Joseph Phipps, they took him into custody. He was booked on a murder charge at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Lt. Brad Toms of the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department said.
Phipps made his first court appearance Friday afternoon, Feb. 1, in the Joshua Tree courthouse, where a judge entered a plea of not guilty for him. The accused man sat with his hands covering his face, occasionally wiping away tears while Judge Rod Cortez dealt with five other accused men before him. Bail was set at $1 million.
Phipps is scheduled to return to court Wednesday for a conference.
A medical examiner will conduct an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.
Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Detective Steve Pennington at (909) 387-3589.
Joseph Phipps had been a tow truck driver at Hill’s Towing for four years, while Christy Phipps’ Facebook page listed her employment as In-Home Health Services.
Robin Willis, a neighbor, knew both the victim and the suspect because their daughters are best friends. “I pulled my daughter out of there because the whole household situation was getting really bad,” Willis said by phone Thursday afternoon.
Willis described an abusive relationship and added, “She’d been trying to leave for over a year and he wasn’t going to let her. He’s a very strange man. I had a very bad feeling about him. She was scared of him.”
Court records show the Phipps were divorcing.