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Flagstaff, AZ; Within the last several days, Coconino County Sheriff’s Office personnel have responded to numerous unrelated deaths including two probable suicides (one in the Fredonia area and one in the Blue Ridge area), a First Degree Homicide and arrest of the suspect, the search for an overdue hiker on the San Francisco Peaks later found deceased, and a death in a vehicle as the result of asphyxiation. While these are not unusual types of cases, the timeline of their occurrence involved high demands on personnel and time resources.
We are taking this time to recap these cases, providing updates and letting the public know about some of the aspects related to a response and investigation in a geographically large and rural setting such as Coconino.
For example, many may not be aware of the amount of people and hours involved in searches for missing people or searches related to other criminal activity. Searches can often involve a very large search area, coordination of multiple agencies and volunteers in the response, the need for specialized equipment and training, operational periods that last over multiple days, and challenging environmental conditions such as inclement weather or steep and rugged terrain. Most missing person searches involve a two prong approach: the physical search and a criminal investigation to determine whether or not foul play was involved.
In addition, many people may not be aware of the remoteness of many areas which may require hours before an investigator can reach the location. To assist in getting responders to scenes as quickly as possible, we work closely with other public safety responders in the area through mutual aid agreements to help stabilize scenes until the agency with appropriate jurisdiction can take control of the scene or investigation.
In terms of the release of names of deceased, there may be a delay in releasing the person’s name as investigators attempt to notify next of kin before the information becomes public. Names of persons who commit suicide are not usually released because the case is rarely charged criminally. However, if a deceased person has been the subject of a missing person report, the name often is released so that the public can be made aware that the person is no longer listed as missing and to advise the public of the general circumstances so as to quell any public safety concerns of foul play.
Recapping the last week larger investigations:
November 7, 2014 – Former Police Officer Found Deceased near Woods Canyon Lake At approximately 8:00 pm the Sheriff’s Office received a call from a camper who advised he found a vehicle in the area of Woods Canyon Lake just off of Forest Service Road 169. According to the caller an adult male was seated in the driver’s seat and was slumped over the steering wheel and appeared to be unresponsive. The Sheriff’s Deputy assigned to the Forest Lakes community and U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement responded to the area. Upon his arrival, the Deputy examined the victim and determined he was deceased. Sheriff’s Detectives responded and found a suicide note. Detectives believe the individual intentionally ingested a lethal combination of alcohol and prescription medication. The victim was the sole occupant of the vehicle and investigators have not found any sign of foul play. The deceased man has been identified as 42 year-old Craig Tiger of Fountain Hills, Arizona. Detectives and the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office are continuing this investigation.
November 11, 2014 – Missing Hiker Reported and Later Found DeceasedOn November 11, 2014 Scott Olson left his cabin located in the Hart Prairie area and told his neighbors he was going for a hike in the meadow with his mixed breed dog “Faith.” That was the last time that his friends or family members saw or heard from him. Scott’s relatives reported him as a missing person on Wednesday afternoon. The Sheriff’s Office initiated a ground and air search late Wednesday evening with searchers on foot and in vehicles looking for Mr. Olson all night. Early Thursday morning a day time search was initiated that included searchers on foot, in vehicles, with scent dogs and in aircraft. Once again the search continued throughout the night. On Friday morning the searchers and support staff numbered more than 50 individuals.
Scott Olson was located by searchers on Friday, November 14, 2014 at approximately 10:51 am on the North West side of Humphreys Peak. A search team assigned to that area spotted recent dog tracks and followed the tracks to the dog “Faith” who remained in close proximity to Scott. Unfortunately Olson was deceased at the time he was located. Olson was located at an elevation greater than 10,000 feet downslope from a landmark known as Philomeno Spring. During this intensive three day (43 hour) ground and air search, the Sheriff’s Office received assistance from Coconino County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Unit, the Grand Canyon National Park Service, Arizona Department of Public Safety Air Rescue groups based out of Phoenix and Kingman, the Coconino County Sheriff’s Community Emergency Response Team and the Nature Conservatory, and many friends and relatives of Scott. Preliminary information indicates that Scott Olson possibly suffered a heart-attack. The Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office is continuing this investigation.
November 13, 2014 - Male Found Deceased near Jolly Sink, North Kaibab ForestOn November 13, 2014 deputies of the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Northern District received a report of a suspicious abandoned vehicle near the Jolly Sink area on the North Kaibab National Forest. A deputy from the Fredonia Substation responded and with the help of a local rancher located a deceased male subject at the bottom of a nearby cliff near the vehicle. The Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division responded to investigate the scene and information points to suicide. The deceased man has been identified as 54 year-old Christopher Douet of Maurice, Louisiana. The incident continues to be under investigation by the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office as well as the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 71 Year Old Seligman Area Man Arrested for HomicideRichard Hollman called and reported he had shot his wife (long-time girlfriend) at a home located west of Seligman, Arizona. Department of Public Safety Officers and Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office Deputies responded to the scene first. They detained the suspect and confirmed the victim was deceased until Coconino County Sheriff’s deputies could take over the scene and investigation. The suspect was identified as 71 year old Richard Hollman. The victim was identified as 62 year old Carol Sheansy.
Detectives investigated the scene and interviewed Hollman who implicated himself in the shooting death of Sheansy. Detectives obtained a search warrant for the residence and located a weapon believed to be used in the homicide along with over 20 pounds of high grade marijuana. Hollman is being held in the Coconino County Detention Facility on a First Degree Murder charge; with a bond of $1,000,000. This crime is still under investigation.
Friday, November 14, 2014 - Man Found Deceased near Lower Lake MaryAt approximately 11:30 am the Sheriff’s Office received a call from a subject who was camping in the area of Lower Lake Mary when he observed a pickup truck parked near a City of Flagstaff water tank close to the intersection of Forest Service Roads 256 and 132. Upon closer inspection the caller saw an adult male in the cab of the truck; the man appeared unresponsive and slumped over. Deputies and Guardian Medical Transport were dispatched to the scene. The subject was found deceased and was identified as a 59 year old William King of Page, Arizona. At this point in the investigation, Detectives believe the man was living in his truck and using a propane powered heater inside the enclosed cab of the truck. The victim was the sole occupant of the vehicle and investigators have not found any signs of foul play. While initial information indicated that the victim asphyxiated, detectives and the Coconino County Medical Examiner’s Office are continuing the investigation.
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Media and Public Contact: Gerry Blair, Coconino County Sheriff's Office, 928-226-5089