A father and son found dead in the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park on Saturday, April 6, were both shot in the mouth with a handgun but authorities know little more about the case, Garfield County Sheriff Danny Perkins said Wednesday.
Dead are Dennis Olvera, 65, of Greenfield, Ind., and his 40-year-old son, Aarron Olvera, of Scottsdale, Ariz. Rangers discovered their bodies at Lou’s Spring in the southwest portion of the park after Aarron Olvera’s wife called Canyonlands National Park to report the pair overdue after a camping trip.
Despite the remoteness of the Maze, park rangers were able to identify the likely location of the two men using information from the permits the Olveras filed before entering the Maze, said Paul Henderson, the park’s assistant superintendent.
Their car was found at Flint Trail and searchers located their bodies a short distance away near the spring, Henderson said.
Investigators believe the two men had been dead for several days before their bodies were located.
Perkins said the incident is considered a murder-suicide or a double suicide. A gun was in one of the men’s hands when their bodies were found, but the sheriff declined to say which man.
“I am confident there is not a murderer running loose,” Perkins said. “They walked up to that spot and that was it. There are not any tracks other than theirs at the scene.”
The men’s base camp has not been found, Perkins said, adding that a helicopter may be used in an attempt to locate the site.
“There might be something there that will tell us something,” he said.
Perkins said there was no sign of a struggle where the Olveras’ bodies were found. No drugs were discovered at the site, he said, and an autopsy performed Sunday ruled out injuries other than the gunshot wounds. A toxicology report will not be received for some time, Perkins said.
A cell phone was recovered, but authorities have not been able to glean information from it yet. Perkins said representatives from an FBI lab told him the iPhone is new and in good condition, but family members have not been able to provide a password.
The sheriff said FBI officials are confident they can get into the phone, although it will take some time.
Perkins said he has talked with family members about the two men’s relationship with nothing leading to a concrete explanation of the deaths.
“There are differing opinions among family members about why this happened,” he said. “There may be some Facebook stuff we can check into. Right now there’s not anything to indicate why this happened.”
Dennis Olvera reportedly was vice president of Developmental Service Alternatives Inc. in Greenfield. He has been described as the top behavioral specialist for the firm, which treats people with difficult mental problems.
Family members and Dennis Olvera’s business partner reportedly have said they do not believe the deaths were a murder-suicide or double suicide.
Times-Independent reporter Lisa J. Church contributed to this story.