SEQUIM — Harrowing family tragedy was tempered with joy for Anthony Varney and Kari Ault last week.
The Sequim couple found out that Anthony’s 68-year-old father, Ray Varney, was brutally killed in his Diamond Point mobile home on or close to Feb. 18.
And they also welcomed a new son.
“I’m so happy for the baby and yet sorry for Ray,” Ault said Friday.
Ray’s grandson, a 7-pound 4-ounce baby, was born at 1:40 p.m. Monday at Olympic Medical Center hospital in Port Angeles.
His parents named him Wyatt Anthony Ray Varney for the grandfather he will never know.
Investigators now believe Ray was dead when the couple called him about the news of his grandson.
His suspected murderer, John Loring, likely was still lurking inside his mobile home up a gravel driveway off Diamond Point’s Fleming Drive, Clallam County Sheriff’s Office investigators said.
Anthony and Ault, who have been together more than six years, cuddled and kissed their new son Friday at their East Hammond Street home in Sequim — and talked about the missing member of the family.
“I’d like to tell my dad that he’s got part of me and that he kind of looks like my dad,” Anthony said.
The last time he saw his father alive was three weeks ago, when he cut firewood with him.
His father was a talented master carpenter and wood crafter from California with a long white beard, Anthony said.
In his younger days, Ray was a biker with a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He loved fast cars.
Anthony said his fondest memories are of riding on the back of the Harley and his father teaching him to drive in a 1972 Cadillac.
A service for Ray Varney has been set for 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 30 Sanford Lane in Sequim.
Cremation will follow, and his ashes will later be scattered, the family said.
Seeking closure, Anthony and his sister, Andrea Varney, visited their father for the last time at Drennan-Ford Funeral Home in Port Angeles on Friday.
She and Anthony both have fond memories of their father’s skills with wood-working, from kitchen tables to curio cabinets to beautiful birdhouses.
“Anything you wanted, he could make it,” Anthony said.
Ray loved walking on the West Sequim Bay waterfront near Port Williams and was always known to wear cut-off jeans shorts in any kind of weather, showing off a pair of stout legs under his 6-foot-6 frame.
He died of gunshot wounds to the head, his son said, adding that Ray had bruises on his arms from what Anthony believed was a struggle.
“He killed him and took his truck, and he took his bank card. He shot him with my dad’s gun,” Anthony said of Loring.
The suspected killer then drove Tuesday to the Woodcock Road home of his former girlfriend, Shellie Gillis, where he allegedly shot and killed her son, David J. Randle, who attempted to block Loring from entering the house to protect his mother, witnesses said.
“That was not the John Loring we knew,” Andrea said of the man she dated for several years in California and Sequim.
“I really don’t understand the reasoning behind what he did to my dad,” she said.
“He just snapped. That’s all I can say.”
Loring killed himself Wednesday while holed up in a west Port Angeles apartment with law enforcement officers trying to convince him to surrender.
Andrea said she, Loring and her father moved to Sequim in 2009 from Hillsburg, Calif.
Her father later moved to Diamond Point.
Besides the new baby, Anthony, an unemployed landscaper and handyman, and Ault have two other children.
Anthony adopted her two children, Dustin, 10, and Chloe, 6, both Helen Haller Elementary students.
Ray was married to Anthony and Andrea’s mother, Joan Gordon of Sequim, but they divorced when the children were still young.
Andrea said she grew up to appreciate her father, describing him as an “awesome” craftsman.
“I was born on his birthday, so I think that was the thing to have to share with him,” she said.
Ray was born June 5, 1943, in Palo Alto, Calif.
Andrea said she enjoyed seeing her father and brother patching up their differences and rekindling their relationship last Thanksgiving.
“They were finally reunited,” she said.
Although he could be cantankerous at times and preferred living alone, Anthony said his father was a good man with a good heart.
Ray had lost his beloved dog, Blue, just months before his death.
Besides his son, sister and new grandson, Ray Varney is survived by his sister, Sharon Jones of Indiana; his brother, Thomas Varney of Willits, Calif.; Andrea Varney’s children, Danielle Kennedy of Sacramento, Calif., and grandson Devin Geller of Sequim; and his great-granddaughter, Payden Geller.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Jeff Chew can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at [email protected]