Longform

Mormon Widower Doug Grant Wasn’t Counting on a Murder Rap When He Followed His Late Wife’s Instruction to Marry His Ex-Lover

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The investigation languished over the next few years.

Then, in early 2004, Detective Ray got a call from Faylene's sister, Cherlene Patterson, who said she'd spoken to a onetime buddy of Doug's from Safford, Jim McElyea.

Cherlene claimed McElyea had told her Doug had confessed to "putting Faylene to sleep and putting her in the tub."

Ray phoned McElyea, who said he really didn't know anything and didn't want to get involved.

Another year passed.

On January 27, 2005, Cherlene called Ray again, saying McElyea had contacted her again, this time saying that if her family would provide him with a $10,000 "loan," he would tell police what he allegedly knew about Faylene's death — her murder, really.

Ray advised Cherlene to tell McElyea that the Eaves family would pay the $10,000, but only after he told them what he knew. He suggested a meeting in a parking lot somewhere, in a car wired for sight and sound, and with a team of undercover cops nearby.

"The bottom line is, we're going to use Jim," the detective said. "If Jim knows what happened to Faylene and has been sitting on it for so long, I'm sorry, we're going to use and abuse him."

Two weeks later on February 16, 2005, Cherlene Patterson and her husband, Darren, awaited Jim McElyea's arrival in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Globe.

As planned, Sy Ray's team had wired the Pattersons' vehicle and hid nearby.

McElyea pulled up and stepped into the Pattersons' car. Cherlene handed him a $10,000 check.

He then told them of visiting Doug at his house in Gilbert one day after Faylene died.

"I had made a comment a couple weeks prior that [Faylene] was scaring me because she was like being around an angel," McElyea told the Pattersons.

"She just had this glow about her. Doug said, 'She is freaking me out, too' . . . And he said that she said she wanted to go to Heaven, and he just did what she wanted . . . He just helped her get to sleep."

McElyea said Doug confessed to him about crushing all of the Ambien, putting it in an empty capsule and giving it to Faylene.

"He had a suspicion that she was going to leave him again," McElyea said. "And I am sure [the murder] had to do with [her] half of the money."

Doug waited until Faylene was almost unconscious, McElyea said, ran the bath, undressed her, and placed her in the tub.

"Did he say anything about holding her under?" Cherlene asked him.

"It's not like she was comatose," McElyea replied. "I mean, she was kind of stirring around, and I guess he had to hold her under. Then, he said he waited and then he went ahead and called [physician assistant Chad White]."

McElyea said Doug also told him White had called 911 after arriving at the Grants' home, which would be huge for investigators if true.

"If she was going to kill herself, why would she take all of her clothes off? Everyone is going to see her," Darren Patterson wondered.

"Faye was even more modest than I was. There is no way she wanted to die like that," Cherlene agreed.

"How could you do that? How could you do that to her?" Darren asked.

"I didn't," McElyea replied.

"He is just evil; he is right there with Satan," Cherlene concluded.

Moments after McElyea left the car, police arrested him on charges of extortion and withholding evidence from authorities. Sy Ray soon promised him immunity in return for being "100 percent with us."

McElyea said he'd do whatever the cop wanted.

The detective interviewed McElyea in Gilbert a few hours later.

McElyea explained that he had drinking and gambling problems, and Doug, whom he'd known for years, had helped him out financially before a falling-out over McElyea's admitted failure to repay him.

McElyea repeated to Ray that Doug had confessed to him out of the blue about murdering Faylene.

"He just started mumbling and he said, 'What did I do? I don't know what I did,' and he started telling me that she wanted to go to the Heavenly Father.

"And she was gonna leave him and was gonna take the boys, and 'I just can't take that chance' and this and that. And I was speechless."

Early that evening, February 16, 2005, Jim McElyea "bumped into" Doug Grant outside a building in Mesa where Doug was about to lead a seminar.

The two hadn't seen each other for more than a year.

Wired for sound, McElyea went along with a script devised by Sy Ray, claiming authorities had questioned him earlier that day about Faylene's death.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin