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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Patterson had worked as a bookkeeper for Doug at OHS for years. But she and the other Eaves family members quit in February 2002, as the investigation into Faylene's death was gaining momentum.

By then, the family had won over an invaluable ally at the Gilbert Police Department, Detective Sy Ray, who had assumed control of the case.

Both Doug Grant and Faylene Eaves were born into close-knit and devout LDS families.

Doug was the youngest of four children born to Lyle and Ione Grant in tiny Pima, in Graham County about three hours southeast of Phoenix.

Lyle Grant, who died earlier this year at the age of 92, was one of that area's most revered citizens, a World War II hero and longtime county recorder.

Faylene was the eldest of Glenna Eaves' two daughters with her first husband. Glenna got divorced when the two girls were young and remarried Mesa's Doug Eaves, with whom she had two children, Douger and Jody.

Doug Grant spent his early years in Pima, where the three C's — copper, cotton, and convicts (the latter referring to prison facilities in nearby Safford) — dominate.

He moved to Mesa in his senior year to attend Westwood High, where he took note of Faylene Eaves, a slim, dark-haired beauty with an omnipresent smile and bubbly demeanor.

The two never dated and went their separate ways after graduation in 1983, Faylene to BYU-Hawaii for a year and Doug to Montana on a two-year LDS mission.

Doug hardly was about to follow the spiritual path of his brother Vaughn, who is now an LDS bishop. Doug always had a hankering for earthly pleasures, especially women and more women.

To the contrary, Faylene's powerful faith in God had dominated her life since childhood.

"Growing up, my Mom worried so much about me, thinking I was too deep and a fanatic," Faylene wrote to Hilary shortly before she died. "She was concerned out of love. She didn't know how sincere and deep my desire was to do the things the prophets and scriptures ask us to do."

Faylene made her major life decisions only after fasting and spending endless hours praying, usually at the sprawling LDS temple in Mesa.

One decision in the mid-1980s was to marry Curt Stradling, with whom she had two children, Austin and Jenna.

Faylene seemed as though she would be the last person to divorce a spouse. But she did in 1992, after asking God whether it was the right thing to do.

Doug went through his own divorce around that time, from first wife Temberly, with whom he had son Bowen.

In the early 1990s, Doug began consulting with then-Phoenix Suns chief Jerry Colangelo on nutritional issues. That led to a handshake deal with Colangelo for a gig as a salaried nutritionist for the professional basketball team. The arrangement lasted about a decade.

In early 1993, Doug (then separated from Temberly) saw an attractive woman in her late 20s walk into a fitness center he then owned in Mesa.

Faylene Eaves Stradling always had been athletic — she was a dedicated gymnast as a teenager — and she was there for a workout.

Doug recognized Faylene as the girl with the big smile from years earlier at Westwood High. He struck up a conversation with her, which led to a date.

Doug's divorce from Temberly became final in May 1993. He and Faylene were married in an LDS temple in Mesa on September 9.

Faylene later would give birth to two boys, Marley and Braven.

Doug split from one health-products firm in the late 1990s and started his own company, Optimal Health Systems.

His second marriage was far from idyllic. Despite the LDS proscription against infidelity — "Next to the sin of murder comes the sin of sexual impurity" — Doug later admitted to having cheated on Faylene from early in the union.

It's impossible to know the extent to which Doug's dalliances, which Faylene long suspected, affected her mental health. But she did express suicidal thoughts in her journals as early as 1995, two years after she and Doug got married.

"The reason I've felt suicidal," Faylene later wrote in July 2000, another time she mentioned harming herself, "is I've been taking on EVERYONE'S opinions, behavior, criticisms as MY problem."

Another of her journal entries around that time bears scrutiny:

"What if I were on a plane and an emergency situation came up? What if I hadn't listened to the pre-flight instructions and thus it took me too long to learn them now in this present time of need to save my life and what if I died?

"Some may say my death was punishment for not listening or . . . just a coincidental happening resulting from the fact that I didn't listen and therefore couldn't save my life in time. But I say simply, it was my purpose to die at that time or these circumstances would not have led to my death — some other circumstances would have led to the continuation of my life."

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin