UPDATE: This version ADDS comment from family statement released Friday.
For years, Richard Davis, 79, traveled to the Casey’s General Store in Colo every Tuesday to get himself and his wife, Charlotte, 78, a turkey and cheese sandwich.
This Tuesday, he didn’t show up.
Troy Swisher, a friend of Davis for 12 years and the Casey’s manager, thought it was odd, but didn’t think anything of it.
“It was kind of weird, but I knew that he hadn’t been feeling the best, so I thought he was sick,” Swisher said.
Around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, authorities received a call from an undisclosed family member about an elderly couple found dead inside a home in the 200 block of Oak Street in Colo.
The deceased couple was later identified by Capt. Nick Lennie of the Story County Sheriff’s Office as the Davises in what appeared to be a murder-suicide, which left those who knew them stunned.
“We believe this was a shared decision to relieve their perceived burden upon their family,” the family said in a statement.
In the statement the family added they believe this may have been the result of “depression and the desperation that comes with the stress of declining health and financial struggle.”
Richard Davis had been struggling with some heart issues over the past several years and did not want to follow some of the advice from doctors, said Russell Davis, the couple’s middle son.
He said his mother became terrified of living and dying along after watching her own mother live without her father in a nursing home at the end of her life.
“She didn’t want to live the rest of her life like (my grandmother),” Russell Davis said on Thursday.
The family is encouraging a dialogue of mental health between friends and family members.
“People may not reach out to you about their problems, but may open up to you if you reach out to them,” the family said in the statement.
To those in Colo that knew the couple, the news was just as shocking.
“It’s really shocking,” said, Michael Boots, a neighbor for five years. “Richard was a really nice guy and I’d see him nearly every morning and say hi.”
Swisher said his friendship with Richard Davis blossomed when Davis began routinely coming into Casey’s every morning for his daily cup of coffee and the newspaper.
Over the years the two discovered they had similar interests and even went on a fishing trips to Alma, Wisconsin, together.
“He loved to fish and I just loved spending time with him talking about fishing and hunting, you know, those kinds of things,” Swisher said.
Russell Davis, the couples middle child said on Thursday that over his parents 60 years of marriage they grew to love Alma.
“It’s a quite small river town,” he said. “You take a little fishing boat in the middle of the Mississippi and fish for walleye all day and night.”
The Davises had three children Becki, Russell and Kerri, who all grew up in Ames. When they were young they moved to the Gilbert School District, Russell Davis said.
The couple moved in Colo, a town of only about 840 people in eastern Story County, in 2001 because they were “small town people.”
“They loved the fact that it was a small town and not a lot of hustle and bustle,” Davis said.
Growing up, Russell described his parents as quiet and strict, but very kind and friendly people.
“They weren’t out going, but if you engaged them they were certainly very engaged and friendly,” he said.
While Richard was hunting, fishing or gardening, Charlotte was quilting, sewing, or counted cross-stitching, Russell said.
Over the years as age crept up to the couple the amount of time spent doing their favorite activities decreased, but the two continued to keep traditions like Christmas alive. Russell Davis last saw his parents while celebrating this past Christmas and said there were no signs of anything out of the ordinary.
“Christmas was always special … the tree was decorated, there was always lots of presents and lots of family around,” Davis said. “(This year) everything seemed perfectly normal.”