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Couple from New Hampshire shot dead in Arizona

A man and woman from New Hampshire were found shot to death Friday morning in a station wagon parked at a scenic overlook in Arizona, authorities said yesterday.

Sheriff deputies found the bodies of James F. Johnson, of Jaffrey, and Carol Raynsford, of Nelson, both 62, in a red Subaru with New Hampshire plates parked in a turnaround off a highway about 10 miles southwest of Sedona, Ariz., according to a statement released by the Yavapai County Sheriff yesterday.

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Detectives have not established a motive for the double homicide, but the killings do not appear to have been provoked, sheriff’s spokesman Dwight D’Evelyn said.

He said a preliminary investigation indicates they died the evening before their bodies were found.

The victims are believed to have been vacationing in the area, and Johnson also may have been considering moving to northern Arizona, D’Evelyn said. The relationship between the victims was not known, he said.

Deputies said they have recovered .223-caliber shell casings and other evidence indicating that at least one suspect fired a rifle from outside the Subaru.

Authorities are searching for a white Dodge or Chevrolet half-ton truck, model years 1998 to 2002, with an old, white camper shell and with red ribbons hanging from the rear-view mirror, according to the sheriff’s office. Witnesses reported seeing a truck matching that description in the area before the bodies were discovered.

Detectives said they are also seeking people who were in two different vehicles seen parked near the Subaru the night before the victims were found.

The two bodies were found Friday at about 11:30 a.m. after members of an off-road vehicle club called 911, authorities said. The club uses the scenic overlook at mile 364 off Arizona Highway 89A as a meeting area.

Known for drawing tourists to its scenic views, the 84-mile long north-south highway runs past mountain ranges, desert valleys, forests, creeks, and canyons. It connects several municipalities in Arizona, including Sedona and Flagstaff, two cities the couple is believed to have visited in recent days.

Detectives are reviewing items found inside the station wagon, including receipts, to determine what the victims did before the homicides, D’Evelyn said.

Citing a press conference scheduled for today, he declined to release further details.

Anyone who has information regarding the shooting may call the sheriff at 928-771-3260, dial an anonymous tip line at 800-932-3232, or e-mail web.sheriff@co.yavapai.az.us. A $1,000 reward is being offered for any tip that results in an arrest, officials said.

Rocheleau can be reached at mjrochele@gmail.com. Girard can be reached at chrisjgirard@gmail.com.
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