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Nevada councilwoman found dead faced possible sanctions

By Phil Gast, CNN
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Councilwoman, husband found dead
  • Councilwoman Donna Fairchild faced possible sanctions
  • City Council was to look at mileage reimbursement request
  • She and her husband were found dead in Nevada city
  • Each apparently died of single gunshot wounds

For more on this story, see CNN affiliate KLAS

(CNN) -- A Nevada city councilwoman who faced possible sanctions over a travel expense voucher and public comments was found dead with her husband Tuesday, hours before a City Council meeting that had the issues involving her on its agenda, officials said.

Donna Fairchild and Bill Fairchild were found in a residence in the city of Mesquite, Nevada, on Interstate 15 near the border with Arizona, authorities said. Police got a call from the residence about 4:30 a.m.

Each apparently suffered a single gunshot wound, the city said. Autopsies are scheduled for Wednesday.

Results from the Clark County Coroner's Office were expected to take four to six weeks, according to a statement from the city.

Mesquite city spokesman Bryan Dangerfield would not comment on the circumstances of their deaths but said police confirmed that a note and a 9 mm handgun were found at the scene.

"The content of the note will not be disclosed until the investigation is complete," Dangerfield said.

City Manager Timothy Hacker said he believed that Donna Fairchild was concerned about the agenda items, according to CNN Las Vegas affiliate KLAS.

The City Council was required to meet Tuesday night, but in light of the day's events, Dangerfield said the allegations against Fairchild probably would not be debated. Two prayers were offered by pastors during the meeting, he said.

Fairchild, who was a candidate for mayor, told the Desert Valley Times last week that she would not comment on the allegations against her, but instead would talk about them Tuesday night.

Mayor Susan Holecheck and City Attorney Cheryl Truman Hunt had planned to ask the City Council to consider sanctioning Fairchild through possible reprimand, removal from boards or expulsion for filing a $94.60 mileage reimbursement request with the city for a January 4 Nevada Development Authority board meeting she allegedly did not attend, according to an item on the council agenda.

Fairchild allegedly violated the city's code of conduct and its personnel policy, and allegedly fraudulently presented a claim to a public officer, Hunt wrote in a January 18 memo.

Holecheck, who is seeking re-election, and Hunt also wanted the City Council to consider removing Fairchild as the city's representative to the Nevada Development Authority board of directors.

According to a filing on the agenda, comments Fairchild made about the development authority in a newspaper article "were negative towards this agency, and deemed incompatible with the mission of the agency and good working relations with other NDA board members."

A January 7 article of the Desert Valley Times includes interviews and comments from Mesquite mayoral candidates.

In the article, Fairview said, "We just got a bill from the Nevada Development Authority: It costs $7,500 to belong. There was one thing that came out of the NDA, and that was Do It Best. That was huge for the community, but I don't think we're getting the bang for our buck."

In the article, Fairchild said that Mesquite should be doing most of its own marketing.

NDA Executive Director Somer Hollingsworth wrote Holecheck that Fairchild -- who was the city's representative to the board since July 2009 -- should have brought her concerns to him, rather than airing them publicly, especially since she was a member of the NDA executive committee, according to an e-mail attached with the filing.

According to the agenda item, Fairchild could have discussed her issues with the NDA if she had attended the January 4 board meeting.

Messages seeking comment were left with Holecheck and Hunt on Tuesday.

A statement from the mayor's office and City Council said, "It is with a heavy heart that we make this announcement. Mesquite has lost two citizens that have devoted their life to public service. On behalf of myself and the City Council, this is a tremendous loss to our community and we express our deepest sympathies to the Fairchilds' family, loved ones and friends."

Donna Fairchild served on the City Council from 2001 to 2007 and was re-elected in 2009. She moved to Mesquite with Bill Fairchild in 1999 after they both retired from the Denver Police Department, the city said.

Donna Fairchild also has been an EMT/paramedic and news reporter for KIMN/KYGO radio in Denver. In Mesquite, Bill worked at a recreation center and was a member of the Virgin Valley Honor Guard and the Veterans of Foreign War.

The Fairchilds were married for 21 years, the city said.

CNN's Melanie Whitley and Frances Causey contributed to this report.