A Tucson mother and son found dead near the Oak Creek Canyon Overlook last month apparently made a suicide pact because the son believed he was facing federal criminal charges.
County medical examiners determined that the 58-year-old son shot his 79-year-old mother in the head and then turned the gun on himself, according to a Coconino County Sheriff's Office report.
"I am innocent, I will never survive the stigma of the accusations," the man wrote in his suicide note. "I have never done harm to anyone and am proud of my nursing career."
The mother reiterated her son's innocence in her note.
"My son is innocent, I won't go on without him. I am very proud of him."
It remains unclear exactly why the man was being investigated.
The bodies of Darline Lee Farney and her son, John Francis Farney, were found on the morning of Oct. 10 next to their sedan, which was parked on the side of Highway 89A a short distance north of the overlook.
The pair appeared to have sat down on a log off Highway 89A near the Oak Creek Canyon Overlook sometime between that Monday night and Tuesday morning, and then each committed suicide.
A man found the bodies on the side of the road between their car and the easement fence. The reporting party then told a ranger at the overlook he believed he had discovered two dead bodies. Deputies found that each had a gunshot wound to the head. The son had a Colt .357-caliber revolver in his lap as well as a flashlight. Deputies soon discovered a set of notes left in the car.
The mother had cuts on her wrists that investigators believe came from razor blades bought the day before in a Sedona hardware store. Investigators also learned that the pair had stayed in a Sedona hotel room the night before. A front desk clerk remembered the mother asking about the hot tub, but did not notice anything out of the ordinary about them.
According to relatives, the man had lived with his mother his entire life. He also had a lifelong career as a nurse. A relative said that everything seemed fine with the pair and that he couldn't understand why they would take their own lives.
When local investigators contacted the Pima County Sheriff's Office and Tucson Police, neither agency was aware of any charges against the man.
An employee at the hospice where the man worked said federal agents had recently come into the office and that the agents told him there was an investigation of Farney in progress.
Coconino County Sheriff's Office investigators were able to confirm that there was an ongoing investigation into the man, but they were told that the case was still sealed and information could be released.
The Arizona Department of Health Services does not list any major complaints against the Tucson hospice where he worked. The Arizona Supreme Court website has no record of any criminal charges ever being filed against Farney. A search of federal court records did not return any pending cases against the man.
In other notes, the pair left all their belongings to relatives and each requested that half of their ashes be spread over the Grand Canyon and the other half over Sabino Canyon in Tucson.
Eric Betz can be reached at 556-2250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.