Two men were discovered dead at Lou’s Spring in the Maze District of Canyonlands National Park on Sunday, April 7.
Both Aarron Olvera, 40 and his father Dennis Olvera, 65 were found with single bullet wounds to their heads from a semi-automatic handgun.
Aarron Olvera was from Arizona. His father Dennis Olvera was from Indiana.
Investigators from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office have not been able to determine whether the men were dead from a murder-suicide or double-suicide.
“That part of the investigation is ongoing. We may or may not know what actually happened,” said sheriff’s deputy Raymond Gardner.
The Olveras were on a five-day hike in the Maze, the western and most remote area of the park. Dennis Olvera’s spouse contacted Canyonlands National Park when she became concerned that they were overdue to return from the trip.
National Park Service rangers found the Olveras’ truck at the Flint Trail trailhead. Upon hiking they discovered the Olveras’ bodies at Lou’s Springs, within the southwestern portion of the Maze District, near the border of the national park and Glen Canyon Recreation Area.
“They had been deceased two or three days when the National Park Service found them,” Gardner said.
The two men had adequate water and food.
“They appeared to be well-equipped to go on an extended camping trip,” Gardner said. “The medical examiner did not find probable reason that would suggest either were in any extreme physical distress at the time of death that would suggest why it was a suicide, if that is what it was.”
Jenna Napoli, the sister of Aarron Olveras and daughter of Dennis Olveras doesn’t believe her brother and father would commit suicide.
“Our family is spinning with questions right now. They didn’t have a history of fighting. There was no note,” Napoli said. “There are too many unanswered questions for us to call this a murder-suicide. Neither one of them would have done it.”
Napoli described her father as soft-spoken and easy going. He is a licensed psychologist and has extensive experience in developing interventions for severe behavior problems.
“Given my dad’s line of work, where he was used to people provoking him and not responding to it, this doesn’t make sense,” Napoli said.
She said her brother was a devout Catholic who was happily married.
“He’s a really funny, loud person,” Napoli said. “He loves sports. He’s a big Notre Dame fan.”
She also said the circumstances don’t make sense.
“It doesn’t make sense to hike all that way to get water and kill yourself when you get there,” Napoli said. “We’re not going to stop until we have all the answers that we need.”
Paul Henderson, assistant supervisor of the Southeastern Utah Group of National Parks, said that two rangers discovered the men and then subsequently a couple of other rangers were flown in.
“In the decade or so I’ve been here, there has been a handful of suicides,” Henderson said. “Parks are one of those places that people associate with good memories. People come to parks to commit suicides. It’s not an everyday occurrence, but there has been a handful over the years.”