MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. — In north Arkansas, Mountain Home is known to many as a small, close-knit town.
Barely 12,000 people make up its population.
“It’s a retirement community. We have a large population of retirees,” Lt. Eddie Griffin with the Mountain Home Police Department says. “It would be odd for us to have a homicide every three or four years.”
Griffin has worked in the Mountain Home Police Department for 23 years.
In the fall of 2019, his squad rolled up on a case, unlike nearly anything they had ever seen.
“It was a murder-suicide by gunshot, but I’m not comfortable describing the details of what we saw,” Griffin recalls.
The Nov. 5 scene was discovered on Embassy Court. It’s a section of a retirement village made up of duplexes and triplexes, not far from the city’s main hospital.
Officers were called out to reports of bodies found behind one of the duplexes.
Investigators later learned that two, possibly three, passers-by had seen the bodies days earlier and thought they were an elaborate Halloween set up.
“The weather had been cool during that time frame so the bodies were well preserved,” Griffin says. “If somebody heard they were found and thought to be a Halloween decoration, you automatically think ‘How can that be?'”
The bodies were later identified as 80-year-old Larry Skeen and his wife, 75-year-old Sharon Skeen.
Authorities quickly learned that the scene was not a crime of passion but rather, a crime of preparation.
“There was actually a letter posted on the back door telling the police to come inside and telling some of the details about where we would find things and what they wanted done,” Griffin says.
The Skeens left directions to their wills and contact information for their attorney.
In letters, the couple revealed they were battling illnesses and expressed desires to no longer remain alive.
Police believe Larry shot his wife with a revolver before pulling the trigger on himself.
Also in the letters, the couple mentioned a son whom they had not spoken to in years and expressed no interest in him being notified of their deaths.
The last known contact the Skeens had with anybody was a nearby animal hospital where a worker later told officers the couple dropped off their dog and asked what would happen to it if they never returned.
The entire investigation left behind a bizarre and bleak result to one couple’s vow of ’til death do you part.
“With anybody, you’re very saddened by it and pertaining to something like this,” Griffin says. “I think the main thing is if you have elderly loved ones in your life, be there…it may make all the difference.”