Elderly couple found dead from murder-suicide after they couldn’t afford wife’s healthcare: ‘We will be in the front bedroom’

‘It’s a little tiny community where we all know each other, but we don’t really know each other,’ says neighbour

Maya Oppenheim
Sunday 11 August 2019 16:39
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According to the sheriff, Mr Jones told the operator: ‘I am going to shoot myself’
According to the sheriff, Mr Jones told the operator: ‘I am going to shoot myself’

A man in Washington state has killed both himself and his wife after raising fears about struggling to pay medical expenses for her ongoing health conditions.

The couple were identified by the Whatcom County Medical Examiner as Brian S Jones, 77, and Patricia Whitney-Jones, 76.

Mr Jones, who lived near the city of Ferndale, called emergency services on Wednesday morning and said he was going to shoot himself, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.

He said he had prepared a note for the sheriff which contained information and instructions. In spite of the operator’s efforts to keep him on the line, Mr Jones is then said to have told the operator, “we will be in the front bedroom”, before disconnecting the call.

Police arrived around 15 minutes later and set up a perimeter around the house and attempted to intervene for about an hour with a crisis negotiator and loud hailer.

But it was too late, as officials then used a robot-mounted camera to look inside the home and found the bodies of the married couple.

Authorities said they believe Mr Jones shot his wife and then himself. They were found lying together.

A statement from Whatcom sheriff Bill Elfo said state officials are investigating the incident which is deemed to be a murder-suicide.

According to the sheriff, Mr Jones told the operator: “I am going to shoot myself.”

Several notes were left in the home “citing severe ongoing medical problems with the wife and expressing concerns that the couple did not have sufficient resources to pay for medical care”, according to the sheriff’s statement.

“It is very tragic that one of our senior citizens would find himself in such desperate circumstances where he felt murder and suicide were the only option. Help is always available with a call to 911,” Mr Elfo said in the post.

Numerous firearms were seized and two dogs found in the house were taken to an animal shelter.

Sherrie Schulteis, a neighbour of the couple, said she often spoke to Mr Jones and watched out for each other’s homes but was totally unaware about the extent to which he was struggling mentally and financially.

“[Mr Jones and I] were always waving and talking about our yards or our flowers,” she told The Lynden Tribune. “It’s a little tiny community where we all know each other, but we don’t really know each other.”

You can contact the Samaritans by calling them for free from any phone on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org or visit www.samaritans.org to find details of your nearest branch

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