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Volunteer Killed Delivering Food

February 28, 1998 GMT

PHOENIX (AP) _ Elizabeth Calabrese was smiling when she left her home to deliver a basket of food to a hungry couple who called her church seeking help for their family. She never returned.

Mrs. Calabrese, 41, was tied up, clubbed, raped and killed by the very couple she came to help, police said. Her body was found hidden beneath cardboard boxes in the back yard of the home of John E. Sansing, 31, and Kara K. Sansing, 28.

Police say Mrs. Calabrese went to the home Tuesday evening after the Living Springs Assembly of God in Glendale got a call for emergency food from a man who identified himself as John Sansing.

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Sgt. Mike Torres, a police spokesman, said some of the couple’s four children, who are between the ages of 9 and 12, saw their mother help tie up Mrs. Calabrese. The children now are staying with an aunt.

Police believe robbery was the motive, but Torres would not elaborate. He said investigators did not know whether Mrs. Calabrese was deliberately lured to the house or whether she was robbed.

After the attack, Sansing fled to his sister’s house and told her he was high on crack cocaine, police said.

The Sansings were arrested Thursday on suspicion of first-degree murder and kidnapping. John Sansing, a warehouse stocker with a long criminal history in Utah, also faces charges of sexual assault and aggravated assault.

A landlord and others who helped them said they were prone to seek aid from charitable organizations and that the children also often scrounged for handouts, including cigarette money for their father.

Emmet Ronan, the Sansings’ attorney, did not return telephone calls.

Mrs. Calabrese’s family and friends said the retired medical technician loved to carry out her religious beliefs by taking food to people in need.

Kathy Specker, a fellow church volunteer, said volunteers are usually required to deliver food in pairs but that Mrs. Calabrese decided to make the trip alone because the family had children and she didn’t want them to go hungry.

``The only reason she did it was for the kids,″ Specker said.