When police were called to a home in Deltona, Florida, on Tuesday evening, they thought they were conducting a simple welfare check: The family of Laurence Caulfield had contacted authorities after they received a package containing the man’s life insurance policy and will.
The package also contained a letter from Caulfield saying his wife had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. He was struggling to cope with the physical and emotional demands of taking care of her, the letter stated.
When the deputies arrived at the home, Caulfield answered the door. When they inquired about his wife, he told them he had moved her to Kansas City to live with friends, according to a police statement obtained by PEOPLE.
But when deputies asked for information to contact his wife. “Caulfield said his daughter in New Jersey had all of the information,” the statement says. “But when deputies spoke to the daughter, she said she didn’t know anything about her mother moving to Kansas City.”
When the daughter then tried to reach her father, police say he told her something different from what he’d told cops. “Her father said that his wife was asleep in the house,” the statement says. “With concerns heightened, deputies began pounding on the door, but no one answered.”
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The statement continues. “Shortly afterwards, at about 10:27 p.m., deputies heard a gunshot coming from the rear of the house and rushed to the backyard to find Caulfield on the ground with a gunshot wound and a gun by his side.”
About two hours elapsed from the time deputies first encountered Caulfield to when they found him dead.
When investigators checked the house, they found a suicide note that Caulfield had written, saying that he killed his wife and buried her body in the backyard.
On Wednesday, authorities dug up the backyard and found a body buried in a deep grave. They believe the body may have been there for several weeks.
Sheriff’s Office investigators said they have “no reason” to think that the body belongs to anyone other than Mrs. Caulfield. (Her full name has not yet been released.) The medical examiner will conduct testing to positively identify the body.