A long-awaited Thanksgiving feast turned into an unimaginable nightmare for one New Mexico family after out-of-town relatives arrived to find the host "dismembered and disemboweled."
Family members of Karlan and Connie Denio are now left struggling to make sense of how the planned holiday ended with him under arrest for her murder.
The day had seemed to be going exactly as planned while relatives made their way to the couple's home in Albuquerque on Thursday afternoon, with Connie Denio "discussing plans for Thanksgiving" in a group chat with family members, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
But once family members arrived at the Denios' home, they noticed it appeared strangely empty, prompting a 911 call and a frantic request for a welfare check, the Journal reports. After police said they couldn't use force to enter the premises, relatives found their own way in: removing a door from its hinges.
Once inside, Karlan Denio's sister discovered him lying in bed and his wife Connie "dismembered" on a bedroom floor, police said.
Karlan Denio, 62, now faces a murder charge in his wife's death, according to Bernalillo County Metropolitan Court records.
The Journal reports that relatives told investigators he was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia just two years ago, a devastating disease that can cause drastic personality changes.
It was not clear as of Saturday if he had retained a lawyer. A spokesperson for the Albuquerque Police Department was quoted telling the Journal that Denio is currently being treated in a hospital for lacerations.
Rich Cordova, a neighbor, told the news outlet he was "stunned" by the slaying, describing the couple as "nice folks" whom he "would least expect" to suffer such a fate.
He said the couple had two grown children, though it wasn't immediately clear if they had shown up for the Thanksgiving dinner.
Other family members took to social media to express their shock at the gut-wrenching turn of events.
"So our Thanksgiving festivities didn't end at all had we all planned," one relative wrote on Facebook, announcing that Aunt Connie Denio "was tragically taken from this earth."
"Please pray for immediate/extended family/friends during this very difficult time as they try and find peace and comfort in the coming days," she wrote.
Another relative shared an old photo of Connie Denio perching in a tree with two young children: "This is how I will always remember my aunt Connie… Not afraid to climb a tree in a dress."
Other loved ones mourned Karlan Denio as well, sharing memories of how he was before his diagnosis.
"In memory of 2 beautiful people. RIP," a female relative wrote.
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