Friends baffled by Mesquite, Nevada, city councilwoman’s suicide
Police in Mesquite, Nev., have confirmed that City Councilwoman Donna Fairchild killed her husband and herself, according to media reports. However, friends say Fairchild, who was facing sanctions from the city council over an improperly filed travel reimbursement and public comments she had made, seemed fine, even “feisty,” hours before the incident.
Police officers responding to a call from Fairchild’s residence around 4:30 a.m. Tuesday found Donna Fairchild and her husband Bill Fairchild deceased in the house from a single gunshot wound each to the head, according to a statement on the city’s website. “It is with a heavy heart that we make this announcement,” said the statement from the city council and Mayor Susan Holecheck. “Mesquite has lost two citizens that have devoted their life to public service. This is a tremendous loss to our community, and we express our deepest sympathies to the Fairchild’s family, loved ones and friends.”
Fairchild’s friend Melanie Giarratana told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Fairchild seemed in fine spirits on the evening before the murder suicide, though the accusations against her were “weighing on her mind.” Fairchild had been accused of filing for $94.60 in mileage reimbursement related to a meeting of the Nevada Development Authority that Fairchild did not actually attend, and for violating the city’s code of conduct? by making negative comments in a newspaper interview regarding the authority’s work for the city.
Giarratana told the Review-Journal that Fairchild, who also planned to run for mayor, was prepared to answer the charges, saying filing for the reimbursement was just a mistake and she had never cashed the check. Fairchild even joked that she wanted her hearing moved to the top of the agenda so she would not have to wait until the end of the meeting only to be removed from the council. “That was how feisty she was,” Giarratana said. “She was still going to run for mayor. She was going to keep fighting.”
The Review-Journal article also mentioned that Fairchild had left a suicide note and called 911 after shooting her husband, saying police would find her in the home “post-suicide.” The article mentions that Donna and Bill Fairchild had been taking the prescription drug Zyban to help them quit smoking until about two weeks before the murder-suicide. Some Zyban users have reported suicidal tendencies, according to the article, which cites a report from the National Institutes of Health and the drug manufacturer’s website.
Fairchild served on the city council from 2001-2007 and was re-elected in 2009, according to the city statement. She moved to Mesquite with her husband in 1999 after they both retired from the Denver Police Department.