Since his March 2 suicide, Dr. Larry Ford -- a Provo native and Brigham Young University graduate -- has been portrayed as a possible assassin who sinisterly stored large quantities of guns and explosives at his Irvine, Calif., home.
News accounts in California have become so negative that Ford's son and current BYU student, Larry C. Ford Jr., said he had to come forward to clear his dad's image."Everyone who knows him knows who he really was," Ford Jr. said. "He was the most loving, giving and loyal person -- especially towards the poor and his family."
Dr. Ford, 49, became a sort of adopted doctor for two LDS missions in California. Besides missionaries, he would give free medical care to others who didn't have medical insurance and couldn't pay high doctor bills, Ford Jr. said.
Once a week, Ford traveled to San Diego to do LDS temple work, and all three of his children currently attend BYU. So it was puzzling when the deeply religious, successful family man unexpectedly shot himself to death inside his home.
"I don't think it was premeditated. . . . He basically did it out of love because he wanted to protect his family from what was eventually coming," Ford Jr. said.
The inevitability was a police investigation that would have been, "two years of hell, and our family would have been dragged through the mud," Ford Jr. said.
Instead of the public ordeal, Ford Jr. said his father chose to end his life.
The pending police investigation involved the non-fatal shooting of James Patrick Riley -- Dr. Ford's business partner. Riley maintained the business end of Biofem Pharmaceutical Inc., while Ford handled product development and research. The company was created to introduce a highly anticipated and potentially profitable female suppository designed to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
On Feb. 28 outside the Biofem's Irvine headquarters Riley was shot in the cheek by a masked assailant who escaped. Investigating officers searched Ford's home two days after the shooting and were set to interview him about his possible involvement the day he died.
Police later made a more thorough search of the home and found 27 hidden canisters filled with guns, ammunition and explosives.
Ford Jr. said his family knew about the canisters, which he said were filled with his father's gun collection and material Ford used in research.
"Unlike here in Utah, people in California don't keep stores of food or anything, so anyone (who) stores up things is perceived as crazy," Ford Jr. said.
Attorneys for Dr. Ford offered further explanation for the canisters. They told the Orange County Register and the Los Angles Times that Ford, an infectious-disease specialist, had gathered intelligence on biological matters for the federal government. Additionally, the South African Embassy in Washington is investigating a report that Ford advised the South African Defense Force on chemical and biological weapons.
On Saturday, a day after Ford was buried in the Provo City Cemetery, California authorities took the last canister from Ford's home. The canister removal was a four-day process that forced the evacuation of 49 nearby homes.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.