Longform

A Gilbert Detective Crossed the Line to Turn Doug Grant’s Wife’s Bathtub Drowning Into a Murder Case

This is Part 2 of a two-part story. Read Part 1 here.


It's September 24, 2008, seven years to the day since Faylene Grant tumbled off a cliff in Utah.

Faylene survived the mysterious fall, only to drown in her bathtub three days later after ingesting enough of the sleep drug Ambien to knock her out.

As a reporter approaches his home in Graham County, Faylene's widower Doug is weeks away from going on trial for her murder.

Grant has been out on bond since spending two weeks in jail after his July 2005 arrest.

He lives with his current wife, Hilary, and three of his four children in rural Pima (population 2,000), a few miles from the county seat of Safford.

Grant's nutritional-products company, Optimal Health Services, is on Center Street, the town's main drag.

New Times knocks on the front door of Grant's spacious home, a few blocks from his business.

The door opens, and Grant appears. Small and fit, he's dressed in a polo shirt with an OHS insignia and pressed khakis. Grant is cordial, yet guarded, saying that his attorney, Mel McDonald, will kill him (interesting choice of words) if he speaks about his case, much as he'd like to.

But the 42-year-old agrees to let the reporter in, so long as discussing Grant's case remains off limits.

Hilary Grant steps into the front room and introduces herself with a firm handshake.

Prosecutors will portray her at trial as the "other woman," an alleged motivation for murder given that Doug married her just three weeks after Faylene's death.

But on this day, she's just a friendly 27-year-old in blue jeans and a baggy T-shirt. Hilary snuggles up to her husband of seven years on a love seat after offering refreshments.

She says she relies on her immediate family and her faith — she's a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — for strength.

"Doug and I are not anything fancy," she says. "We are about family, kids. This is our life."

While tidy and clean, the Grant home feels lived in, as well it should with two athletic boys (now 12 and 10) and 5-year-old daughter Navaeh bounding about.

A tour of the home includes a stop in the bedroom of Marley and Braven, Doug Grant's sons by Faylene (an older son by Doug's first wife lives elsewhere).

A photograph of Doug and Charles Barkley from the 1990s is tacked to a wall, a reminder of their dad's tenure as team nutritionist for the Phoenix Suns.

Photos of the boys with their late mother sit prominently on their dressers, near shots of their adoptive mother Hilary with other family members.

Only one room reveals any hint of the dark cloud that has been hanging over Doug Grant since his arrest.

He calls it the "war room" because everything in it concerns the sprawling case against him — the to-do lists scribbled on a chalkboard in one corner, the police reports, the legal papers, the DVDs.

Copies of Faylene Grant's diaries — key evidence in the case — are under the glass top of a coffee table in the middle of the room.

People who leave behind letters or journals (Faylene did both) often are alerting the world to look toward a certain culprit should they wind up dead.

Faylene didn't do that.

In her final months, she did endlessly reveal her steadfast belief that she would die soon. She wrote it in her diary. She said so in conversations and letters to close friends and family and to both Doug and Hilary.

Faylene, as far New Times could discover, didn't say how she believed her death would occur, but the devout 35-year-old Mormon woman claimed to know why it would happen:

God was calling her to Heaven.

Her diaries and her comments to others suggest that she was happy with her life with Doug, whom she had unexpectedly and suddenly remarried in July 2001 after being divorced from him for about a year.

But despite Faylene's apparent marital bliss — "I love you with all my heart and soul. You are my best friend!" she wrote to Doug three weeks before she died — her overwhelming sense that her life would soon end never went away.

Her death "revelations" started months before she reunited with Doug, and Faylene told a dear friend earlier in 2001 that she was afraid to get involved with a new love interest because she didn't want to make him a young widower.

Things took an even stranger twist after she and Doug got married, as she became obsessed with putting her affairs in order before God took her.

On top of that list was Faylene's effort to urge Doug and Hilary DeWitt to get married as soon as she died.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin