Massage Envy, Cold Stone exec dies after attack on parents, police say

PHOENIX — A Scottsdale, Ariz., man who police say died after attacking his parents Monday had been an executive with high-profile Arizona companies such as Massage Envy and Cold Stone Creamery.

Lee Edward Knowlton's cause of death after being taken into police custody is unknown.

Knowlton, 55, posted a picture of himself with his father on Father's Day, with the caption that read: "Happy Father's Day Dad! You are an incredible role model for me and I appreciate how you have always been there for me."

Less than two months later, Scottsdale police said Knowlton attacked his father with a stun gun.

Sgt. Ben Hoster, a Scottsdale police spokesman, said a woman called 911 at 7:10 p.m. Monday to report her son was physically attacking her and her husband. The woman appeared to have been beaten when she met officers outside her home.

Scottsdale police said arriving officers found Knowlton and his father, who is in his 80s, lying on the floor covered in blood inside an apartment at the Andara Senior Living community.

Authorities said Knowlton stopped breathing as he was being handcuffed. Firefighters transported Knowlton and his parents to a hospital. Knowlton was pronounced dead just after midnight Tuesday.

Knowlton worked as a top executive for several companies throughout the Phoenix area over the course of 14 years.

He was promoted to president of international and business development at Scottsdale-based Cold Stone Creamery in 2006, where he reported directly to then-CEO and now Gov. Doug Ducey. Knowlton served other executive roles at the company before that.

The following year, Cold Stone merged with Kahala, a Maricopa County business franchisor, and the board decided to part ways with Ducey.

Knowlton stayed on another two years before moving on to serve six years as CEO of Scottsdale-based Fun Brands Inc., which owns the BounceU and Pump It Up franchises.

"We were shocked and saddened to hear about this heartbreaking tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lee’s family during this incredibly difficult time," said Fun Brands spokeswoman Melissa Marchwick in a statement.

Prior to his death, Knowlton was working as senior vice president of global sales and international at Scottsdale-based Massage Envy.

“We are shaken and profoundly saddened by this loss. Our deepest sympathies go out to Lee’s family,” Eleanor Urkovich said in a statement for Massage Envy.

Hoster said Knowlton had drug paraphernalia on him. He had no previous interactions with police in Scottsdale.

The elder Knowltons were said to be in stable condition Tuesday.

Officials at the Andara Senior Living community declined to comment.

Follow The Arizona Republic on Twitter: @azcentral

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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