Friends try to make sense of Heywood suicides

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In the years leading up to their apparent suicides, Valley radio icon Bill Heywood and his wife Susan struggled with health and financial problems, according to friends.

Still, nobody predicted the ending that played out this week.

The couple was found dead of apparent self-inflicted gunshot wounds in a Scottsdale hotel Wednesday afternoon. They had checked in the night before.

"From the folks I talked to, no one saw this coming," said Charlie Van Dyke, Heywood's former boss at KOY radio.

According to Van Dyke and Heywood's longtime friend and colleague Pat McMahon of KTAR, Susan had serious health problems.

McMahon said Susan had suffered from a couple of strokes and several bouts with cancer.

Friends described the couple as inseparable.

Van Dyke last saw Heywood at an Arizona Broadcasters' Hall of Fame event in the fall.

"He said at the time, 'She's my sunshine; she's my joy. If she's not here, I don't want to be here,'" Van Dyke said.

The couple also struggled financially.

Heywood left radio to focus on real estate in 2006, shortly before the collapse of the housing market.

According to court records obtained by 3TV, the Heywoods filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and were forced to foreclose on their Biltmore estate.

Scottsdale police say there are a number of indications the couple planned their death. They left suicide notes both in the hotel room and in their Kierland condo.

Scottsdale police Sgt. Mark Clark says it appears the couple had spent time "getting their affairs in order" and leaving directions for family members.