The Mesa City Police Department’s homicide division is investigating the death of Gary Lenius, the Arizona man whose wife served him soda mixed with fish tank cleaner in what she claimed was a bid to fend off the coronavirus. A detective handling the case confirmed the investigation to the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday after requesting a recording of the Free Beacon’s interviews with Lenius’s wife, Wanda.
Gary Lenius, 68, died on March 22. Wanda, 61, told several news outlets last month that both she and her husband had ingested a substance used to clean aquariums after hearing President Donald Trump tout one of its ingredients, chloroquine phosphate, from the White House briefing room.
Detective Teresa Van Galder, the homicide detective handling the case for the Mesa City Police Department, confirmed that the investigation is ongoing but declined to provide additional details.
“As this is an active investigation, I cannot go into any details at this time regarding the case,” Van Galder said. The Free Beacon provided a recording of its interview last month with Wanda Lenius.
News of the police probe comes after a series of Free Beacon stories raised questions about the portrayal of the couple in the initial NBC News report that vaulted the story onto the national stage.
Though that report and others suggested the couple mindlessly followed the president’s medical advice to disastrous results, friends of Gary Lenius told the Free Beacon they were skeptical he would knowingly ingest fish tank treatment.
Rather, they described Lenius as a levelheaded retired engineer and recounted a troubled marital relationship that included a previous domestic assault charge against his wife, of which she was ultimately found not guilty. The Free Beacon also reported that Wanda Lenius was a Democratic donor whose most recent contribution went to a “pro-science” super PAC.
“What bothers me about this is that Gary was a very intelligent man, a retired [mechanical] engineer who designed systems for John Deere in Waterloo, Iowa, and I really can’t see the scenario where Gary would say, ‘Yes, please, I would love to drink some of that Koi fish tank cleaner,'” one of his close friends told the Free Beacon. “It just doesn’t make any sense.”
Another source, who asked that all identifying information be withheld, told the Free Beacon earlier this month that Wanda Lenius “would constantly berate Gary in public.… Everyone was embarrassed for him, but he outwardly did not seem to care much.”
“In our opinion, their marriage was seen outwardly to be as one-sided as a marriage possibly could be: Gary worshiped Wanda,” this person said, adding that his wife “would routinely call him a doofus” and humiliate him in public.
Wanda Lenius was charged with domestic abuse assault in 2001 after she allegedly hit her husband and swung a mounted birdhouse at him. Gary Lenius declined to cooperate in the case, testifying that he was not injured or placed in fear of injury. His wife was exonerated.