They were pronounced dead at 4:24 p.m.
A day like any other, Erskin and Mary Fulgham couldn’t have known Tuesday, July 23, 2013, would be their last.
The couple had lived in their home in a midtown cul-de-sac for more than 40 years. Of modest means, Erskin, a retired employee of Asarco, and Mary, retired from the University of Arizona athletic department, got by on a fixed income. They lived a simple life.
Their brutal slayings were unfathomable.
Erskin, 87, and Mary, 83, were found in their home late in the afternoon. Each had been stabbed repeatedly. Erskin had also been beaten and stomped. Three suspects were picked up hours later while driving the couple’s 2004 Buick through Nevada. One of the trio, Kyle Drattlo, is the couple’s grandson.
Witness statements and surveillance footage from cameras outside businesses near the Fulghams’ home have helped investigators piece together how the two spent their last hours, according to recently released Tucson Police Department reports.
A timeline of their final day:
6:30 a.m. — A grandson — not Drattlo — stopped by before work, as usual, to check on his “Nana” and “Papa” and feed Erskin’s beloved husky. Erskin was still sleeping, but Mary was already awake.
Noon — The grandson who stopped by earlier in the morning called to check in and talked to Mary.
12:14 p.m. — Drattlo called his grandmother, told her he was stranded on Mount Lemmon and needed a ride back to the city.
About 12:30 p.m. — The couple walked to the home of a neighbor in the cul-de-sac and asked for a ride to a mechanic’s shop to retrieve their Buick that was being repaired. The neighbor was unable to give them a ride. Mary then asked another neighbor. The neighbor obliged and dropped off the Fulghams at the mechanic three miles away.
12:41 p.m. — Mary called Drattlo back but got no answer.
About 1 p.m. — At the mechanic’s shop, Mary told the owner she couldn’t pay him the entire amount for the repairs and arranged to make two payments. The owner used his own credit card to fill the tank and added the charge to their bill.
Shortly after 1 p.m. — A neighbor saw an SUV pull up to the Fulghams’ home and drop off two men and a woman. One is positively identified as Drattlo. After milling around outside the home for a few minutes they disappeared. At about the same time, an employee at a business next to the home saw two men in the Fulghams’ backyard. After about five minutes, the neighbor saw the trio enter the home through the front door.
1:12 p.m. — Mary went to a grocery store less than two miles from their home to pick up $200 sent by her son in Nevada via Western Union.
1:39 p.m. — The couple returned home, with Mary driving.
2:30 p.m. — A Meals-on-Wheels deliveryman arrived with food for the Fulghams. The deliveryman noticed the window blinds were drawn, which was unusual, since the couple usually looked out the window while waiting for him. Even stranger, Erskin, who was “physically unstable and has oxygen” came outside to take the food from him. “This,” said the witness, “was very unusual.” The driver always went into the home and deposited the food on the kitchen table.
2:26 p.m. — The Fulghams’ Buick was captured on surveillance camera leaving the home.
2:43 p.m. — Mary dropped Erskin at a Dunkin’ Donuts around the corner from their home. He waited at a table inside until she picked him up about half an hour later.
3:15 p.m. — The couple was seen returning home.
3:34 p.m. — The Buick was seen leaving the home for the last time, apparently with multiple occupants.
3:55 p.m. — The grandson tried two more times to reach his grandparents by phone as he drove to their home to check in and feed the dog.
It was still a typical day for him.
4 p.m. — The grandson arrived at the home and noticed the blinds were shut, which was unusual. After knocking and getting no answer, he entered the home. The door was unlocked. He saw his grandmother first, slumped in a chair in the living room. He thought she was sleeping. Then he noticed the contents of her purse dumped on the floor at her feet. Then he saw the blood. Next he found his grandfather lying in a pool of blood in the kitchen, on his back, his head resting against the back door. His teeth were knocked out.
4:04 p.m. — The grandson called 911.
4:08 p.m. — The first Tucson Police Department officer arrived.
About 4:15 — A police officer kicked down the door of a locked bedroom in the Fulghams’ home in the search for the killers. No one was inside.
4:24 p.m. — A police officer officially pronounced the Fulghams dead.
MORE ON MONDAY — This is the first story in a two-part series. Read about the three suspects in Monday's Arizona Daily Star.
Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4191.