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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Perhaps, if Doug Grant isn't guilty, Faylene didn't intend to kill herself by taking the Ambien before she drowned. Instead, akin to her fantasy about dying on the plane, she simply swallowed the pills, stepped into the bathtub, and put the rest in God's hands.


Doug Grant and Sy Ray are kindred spirits in some ways. Both are bound by ambition, ego, and a gift of patter that has held them in good stead in their professions.

A week after Sy Ray joined the Grant case as an investigator at the start of 2002, another detective interviewed Faylene's daughter Jenna for the first time. Three months had passed since that dreadful September morning at the home on East Michelle Way.

Speaking rapidly, the bright sixth-grader said she had awakened at 7:15 a.m. for school on the fateful day.

Jenna said Doug already had been up and in the kitchen, "probably" getting some food for one of her little brothers when she went to take a shower.

About 7:45, Jenna said Doug told her, in an obvious state of panic, to grab the boys and take them over to a neighbor's.

"I didn't know what happened, though I knew it had something to do with Mom," she told the detective.

He asked Jenna about the relationship between her mother and Doug.

"My step-dad was really, really nice to my mom," she said. "Treated her like a queen .  .  .  He was really glad that they got back together, and they never fought."

The interview was something of a bombshell for the Gilbert police. Doug Grant never had said a word to them about having been in the kitchen with his son.

Sy Ray soon had a second interview with Jenna. A recording of that interview shows that Jenna repeatedly said she didn't recall much about that morning precisely, or at all.

She couldn't remember, for example, whether Doug had been wet (from pulling Faylene out of the tub) when he'd sent them from the house, though she tended to think he hadn't been.

However, when Detective Ray appeared before a grand jury three years later, his recounting of his interview with Jenna made her sound far more definitive.

"She specifically, without a doubt, recalls not only seeing Doug in the kitchen that morning [but] also talking to him," Ray testified.

"When I asked her how she could be sure it was that day that she was remembering, not some other day she is confusing, she began crying, explaining to me that [it was] the morning that her mother dies."

Nowhere on the videotape and separately recorded audiotape of Ray's interview with Jenna does she claim to possess such clarity.

At the end of January 2002, detectives Ray and Palmer paid a surprise visit to Doug Grant at home. Grant repeated his account of the events of several months earlier — showing them how he'd found Faylene in the tub. The cops left after a few hours.

A few days after that interview, the Medical Examiner's Office issued its official findings in the case, concluding that the cause of Faylene's death was Ambien intoxication and drowning, the manner of death "undetermined."

Dr. Arch Mosley, a pathologist who now works in Coconino County, could have called her death a homicide, suicide, accident, or because of natural causes, but he didn't.

He tells New Times that no one has brought anything to his attention since since then that indicates the manner should be ruled anything but "undetermined."

"If I had been presented with anything compelling to change it, I would have," Mosley says.

The testing of Faylene's blood turned up only the Ambien — about five times the recommended dosage — which was curious because police at the scene had noted that the bottle of the recently filled prescription for the muscle relaxant Soma also was missing four pills.

(Where the Soma pills went is a mystery. Also, the cops apparently lost all the pill bottles seized at the Grants' home and never collected any of Faylene's vomit for testing, among other investigative errors.)

Detective Ray first met with physician assistant Chad White in March 2002. According to an audiotape of the interview, White told him:

"When I was giving her CPR, [Doug] kept saying, 'I'm so sorry. I gave her a sleeping pill and then she went and got in the bathtub, and I woke up.' He was real frantic about it."

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin