The shooting deaths of a father and son, whose bodies were found April 6 in the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park, are being ruled a double suicide, according to the sheriff who investigated the case.
“There’s nothing to show there was anything but a double suicide from our investigation or from the medical examiner,” said Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins.
He said during an interview this week that National Park Service (NPS) officials interviewed some hikers who heard the two men arguing.
“There was something going on between them,” Perkins said of the father and son.
Park rangers discovered the bodies of Dennis Olvera, 65, of Greenfield, Ind., and Aarron Olvera, 40, of Scottsdale, Ariz., at Lou’s Spring in the remote southwest portion of the park. Rangers began searching after Aarron Olvera’s wife called Canyonlands National Park to report the men overdue after a camping trip.
Paul Henderson, assistant superintendent of the NPS Southeast Utah Group, said overnight camping in that area of the park is by permit only. That gave park authorities a database of everyone in the vicinity at the same time who may possibly have encountered the two men, he said.
“We interviewed a party that had come across them, and the party stated they were having a disagreement,” Henderson said. “It appeared to be over who was going to carry equipment and who was going to carry water.”
That same party saw the men a day later and said they were walking 60 or 70 yards apart, Henderson said, adding that’s not unusual for people hiking together.
Backcountry rangers found the men’s packs, but they contained no clue as to what happened, Henderson said.
A gun was found in one of the men’s hands, according to Perkins, but law enforcement officials declined to say which person.
Both men had been shot in the mouth, Perkins said. He said it took searchers some time to locate the men’s camp, but investigation of that site failed to provide information as to what happened.
“We went through everything with a fine-tooth comb,” the sheriff said.
Although a toxicology report on the two bodies has not been received, Perkins said the deaths are officially being classified as suicides.
He said NPS personnel contributed significantly to the investigation.
“They were great to work with,” Perkins said.