Deaths the result of murder-suicide
Man shot his wife, then himself after learning of their son’s felony arrest in Utah
RANGELY — A 68-year-old Rangely man shot and killed his wife and himself sometime after learning Monday night that his son had been arrested on a felony criminal charge in Utah, authorities said Wednesday.
Rio Blanco County Undersheriff Michael Joos said Carlos “Charlie” Graham Sr. left no note before shooting his wife Lucille, 64, and then turning the shotgun on himself.
Both were found dead Tuesday with shotgun wounds to the head, and the gun was found in the home on County Road 102 just outside Rangely.
Graham’s co-workers at a nearby Chevron pipeline plant had gone to check on him Tuesday after he failed to show up for work, and they called authorities when no one answered his door.
Joos said Graham “had not ever been late for work. He’d worked there for over 15 years.”
The shooting occurred after the couple had been on the phone with family members as late as 9 p.m. Monday night, having learned that evening about the arrest of their son, Carlos Jr., in Uintah County, Utah, Joos said.
Joos said investigators are looking into the possibility that anguish over the arrest of their son might have been a motive behind the shootings.
“Whether that’s emotionally tied to them — his arrest being tied to them doing this — I don’t know. We may never know,” Joos said.
Joos declined to release details of the son’s arrest. The Uintah County Sheriff’s Department said the arrest occurred in Vernal, and Vernal police were unable to provide further information Wednesday afternoon.
A Uintah County jail employee said Carlos Jr., 44, was being held in lieu of $175,000 bond. But the employee said he was not allowed to say on what charges Graham was being held.
Another possible motive for the shooting might have been Lucille’s failing health, Joos said.
Tammy Strain, who lived near the Grahams and rented them land where they lived in their trailer, said Lucille was suffering from emphysema.
“It was a hard time for him, to see her so ill, but he tended to her very well,” Strain said.
Lucille had worked at the hospital in Rangely before retiring.
Strain works in production for Chevron, so she occasionally interacted with Graham, both on the job and as a neighbor. Speaking Wednesday before authorities determined Graham was responsible for the shootings, she called him “a very nice man” and expressed shock over the pair’s deaths.
“They were just a very quiet couple, tended to their own business. He would do anything to help anybody,” Strain said.
Autopsies on the Grahams were performed Wednesday in Grand Junction. Joos said gunshot residue found on
Graham helped confirm investigators’ initial belief, based on evidence at the scene, that he had killed his wife and himself.
He said authorities knew of no prior suicide attempts or other indications that Graham had been suicidal.
One of the Grahams’ children, Richard, who was married and had children of his own, died several years ago in a car accident, Joos said. He said he believed Carlos and Lucille also had a daughter.
Joos said the last murder in an unincorporated area in that part of Rio Blanco County was a drug-related homicide in 1997. Two people died in a murder-suicide in Rangely about five years ago, he said.