Vandalism suspect arrested after Laveen art studio owner catches him red-handed

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LAVEEN, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) — A Valley art studio owner said her new location in Laveen was vandalized with red spray paint. It happened near 35th Avenue and Baseline Road on Friday morning.

The vandalism is all over the house. It starts on the front door with messages written in acrylic pens, and that continues into the kitchen, with more on the cabinets. Sunshine Sunflower Studio owner Laurie Canfield said this whole thing has been a bizarre nightmare. She even caught the suspect red-handed.

“‘Why are you in my house? Get out of my building!’ And the guy was like, ‘It’s my house. It’s my building.’ No. I went, ‘Dude you’re in my t-shirt!’ It says my business name on it,” she said.

Canfield is crushed by the damage done by a stranger. “It was honestly heartbreaking,” she said.

MCSO said evidence points to Taylon Taylor-Whitfield getting inside through a window. He’s facing burglary and criminal damage charges after allegedly spray-painting graffiti all over. It’s on the walls, the floor, and even in the bathroom.

“I don’t know what some of these things mean,” said Canfield. She said many of the phrases were either random or religious.

Canfield said a neighbor first noticed Taylor-Whitfield after realizing the water was off. The neighbors share a well, so Canfield came to investigate and said she found him destroying her space.

“This was obviously a very unexpected and disappointing surprise to receive,” she said.

The ceramic artist has another studio in Melrose that opened in 2020. Since then, she’s been working hard to expand by offering classes and parties at her Laveen location.

“We’ve spent like our entire life savings to just purchase the property,” said Canfield. “Devastated to have a setback at this point.”

Canfield said the suspect tore down decorations and broke drywall, a tent, and some pottery. She estimates the clean-up could cost up to $10,000, but she’s grateful he was not violent.

“Nobody got hurt and that’s the most important thing,” she said.

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