- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 5, 2014

RENO, Nev. (AP) - The husband of a missing Spanish Springs woman concocted a false story about her supposed death before he committed suicide, but she too is likely dead, detectives said Wednesday.

Authorities continue to search for Colleen Muhl, 56, who last was seen Feb. 17, but they fear she has become the victim of foul play, Washoe County sheriff’s Lt. Tom Green told The Associated Press.

Gerald Muhl, 51, had consented to multiple interviews with investigators before he was found dead Monday of a self-inflicted gunshot wound a few blocks from the couple’s home, Green said.

Officers first contacted him at the home at about 5:45 a.m. Sunday after the woman’s sister in California had formally reported her missing earlier that morning.

Muhl told them at that time that his wife left the home Feb. 17 and that California authorities had notified him that she died Feb. 22 in Richcrest, Calif., Green said.

Investigators found no evidence that was true and continued contact with Muhl, the last time during an interview with him and other family members at the sheriff’s office that didn’t end until after 11 p.m. Sunday, Green said.

He said he wouldn’t describe the interview as “confrontational” because detectives still were trying to obtain information about his wife’s whereabouts.

“It hadn’t gotten to the point we were calling him a liar,” Green told AP. “But his story changed back and forth. Things weren’t adding up.”

By 12:45 a.m. Monday, Muhl’s family had phoned police warning that Muhl had left the house and could be suicidal. His body was found hours later in a field on the north edge of Spanish Springs off the Pyramid Highway.

Detectives found Colleen Muhl’s credit cards at the home Wednesday and continue to investigate, Green said.

“My hope is she is still alive, but my gut tells me she is not,” he said. “Logically, it is difficult to think she is alive.”

Detectives are appealing to anyone who had contact with or observed either of the Muhls, especially since Feb. 17, to contact the sheriff’s office at 775-785-9276 or Secret Witness at 775-322-4900.

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