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Paramedic accused of killing wife with eye drops

Investigators found high levels of tetrahydrozoline in his wife’s blood, which can lead to cardiac arrest if ingested

Kate Ng
Tuesday 24 December 2019 14:32 GMT
Joshua Lee Hunsucker, 35, is accused of killing his wife with an active ingredient found in eye drops
Joshua Lee Hunsucker, 35, is accused of killing his wife with an active ingredient found in eye drops (NBC News)

A paramedic has been accused of murdering his wife with an active ingredient found in eye drop medication.

Authorities in North Carolina arrested Joshua Lee Hunsucker, 35, who faces charges of first-degree murder of his wife, Stacy Robinson Hunsucker, 32.

A preliminary hearing at Gaston County court was told on Friday that Ms Hunsucker’s blood contained a suspiciously high amount of tetrahydrozoline, a chemical decongestant commonly found in eye drops and nasal sprays.

The ingredient is not harmful when used for its intended purposes, but when ingested can lead to vomiting, diarrhoea, nausea, seizures, and cardiac arrest.

North Carolina Insurance Department attorney Jordan Green told the judge: “We’re told by toxicologists and our cardiologists that medicine has a dramatic effect on your heart and would cause heart stoppage or heart failure in a fairly short amount of time, which is consistent with what happened here.”

Ms Hunsucker, who had been experiencing medical problems since 2013, died in September 2018 of cardiac arrest in her home in Mount Holly.

After her death, Mr Hunsucker allegedly refused to allow an autopsy on her body, despite the fact she was an organ donor.

According to court documents, his reason for refusing the autopsy was that he did not want his wife “to be cut up”, and instead had the body cremated immediately.

Mr Hunsucker moved to collect life insurance after his wife’s death, receiving US$250,000 from two policies, reported the Washington Post.

Her mother, Suzie Robinson, became suspicious and made an allegation of insurance fraud against Mr Hunsucker.

Upon learning Ms Hunsucker had been an organ donor, investigators obtained a blood sample that was preserved and send it to a lab to be tested.

The results revealed extremely high levels of tetrahydrozoline, which prosecutors say Mr Hunsucker would likely have had access to as part of his medical supplies as a flight paramedic for Medcenter Air.

The court also heard how “quickly he [Mr Hunsucker] had moved on with his girlfriend”, who moved into his home within six months of Ms Hunsucker’s death.

His coworkers reportedly told investigators he seemed “unaffected” by his wife’s death.

Mr Hunsucker was fired by Medcenter Air on Friday and had been under investigation for misconduct at work, Mr Green told the court.

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