William Delaney (Source: Peoria Police Department)
PEORIA, AZ (CBS5) -
Skeletal remains found by hikers last week have helped Peoria police solve a nearly 2-year-old murder case.
The remains were found on Feb. 6 in a desert area south of State Route 74 and mile marker 17 in northern Peoria.
On Friday, the remains were positively identified using dental records as 54-year-old Deborah Lee Delaney, of Peoria, who suspiciously vanished from her home in April 2011.
Delaney's disappearance had been the focus of an ongoing criminal investigation conducted by detectives from the Major Crimes Unit of the Peoria Police Department.
Her husband, 56-year-old William Delaney, was identified as the only suspect in both the disappearance and probable murder of his wife, police said. William Delaney was a retired Sun City Fire Department and Montezuma/Rim Rock firefighter and paramedic.
Detectives poured through hundreds of records including examination of cell phone records, financial documents, medical records, social media sites, multiple interviews and surveillance.
During the investigation, multiple search warrants were obtained and served on homes, vehicles, storage lockers and personal property belonging to William Delaney, police said.
Evidence obtained from the search warrants provided investigators with enough to submit first- degree murder charges on William Delaney, even though his wife's body had not yet been located.
On May 9, 2012, just as detectives were in the process of finalizing reports, they learned William Delaney had taken his own life inside his vehicle at the Mormon Lake Overlook outside of Flagstaff.
Det. Chris Boughey said William Delaney knew he was about to be arrested.
"I think our parting words to Mr. Delaney, when we left Tuba City, in the first part of May was, 'next time we see you we're putting handcuffs on you for killing your wife,'", Boughey said. "I think he knew based on what we had gathered during that investigation and based on evidence we received."
Delaney suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, police said. Even with their only suspect dead, detectives continued to analyze evidence and search for Deborah Delaney's body.
"The circumstances involving the discovery of Deborah's body, coupled with information and evidence recovered during this investigation reinforce detective's belief that William Delaney was responsible for the murder and disposal of his wife's body," according to a police statement.
Boughey said it is still unclear how Deborah Delaney died.
"There's a belief there was a possible poisoning that happened or an overdose," said Boughey. " However, none of that has been proven at this point, until the medical examiner's report comes back."
CBS-5 News has also learned that Deborah Delaney was William Delaney's 4th wife. Police said that his 3rd wife died under suspicious circumstances.
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